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Ramsey County judge will hear motion to dismiss St. Paul trash lawsuit

August 25, 2018

A St. Paul man suing the city over its new organized trash collection system will appear in Ramsey County District Court next week to argue that his case should move forward.

Highland Park resident Peter Butler filed a lawsuit against the city in May, arguing that the pricing of organized trash collection violates the Minnesota Waste Management Act. In July, the St. Paul City Attorneys Office filed a motion to dismiss the case, saying Butler misinterpreted state law.

Because this court is not bound by Plaintiffs legal conclusions which misinterpret the plain language of [the statute], the City of Saint Paul is entitled to dismissal, City Attorney Lyndsey Olson wrote in a July memorandum.

A motion hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Organized trash collection is scheduled to begin Oct. 1. Butler isnt the only one pushing back a petition created by frustrated residents who want to put organized trash on the ballot has received more than 1,000 signatures.

The city gave residents the choice between four different trash collection options and three bin sizes, ranging from 35 to 96 gallons. Butlers lawsuit centers on the per-gallon cost of each trash bin, which is lowest for the largest bin size.

In the July memorandum, Olson wrote that the Waste Management Act requires the city to determine a base unit size for a small garbage cart and ensure that bigger carts are priced higher. The City has done this. The law doesnt say fees have to be set on a per-gallon basis, she wrote.

The memorandum also argues that Butlers lawsuit should be dismissed because he failed to show that organized trash collection pricing hurt him. In a response filed Aug. 11, Butler wrote that, because he opted for the smallest bin, he wont get the lowest per-gallon rate. To remedy that, Butler wrote, the city could pay him the difference: $169.44 annually, or $42.36 per quarter.

Butler also requested a summary judgment, but in a response, the city attorney pointed out that he missed the filing deadline of 28 days prior to the motion hearing.

Emma Nelson 612-673-4509

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