Sunset Waste is seeking $8 million dollars in damages for, what they believe was a breach of contract. Fresno ended their relationship with the company as they began handing over all commercial trash services to another provider.
If Sunset is also awarded penalties for their residential and recycling efforts, the City of Fresno could pay out as much as $16 million. Even that could just be the beginning.
People opposed to the Mayor's plans say they're well on their way to collecting 22,000 signatures to challenge the new private residential contract with Mid-Valley disposal. If they reach their goal by Friday at noon, the City Council can re-visit the issue, and cast another vote.
All three previous results came out the same. The residential contract was approved by a vote of 4 - 3.
If that trend continues, a special election would likely be called. That could cost the city too; about $1 million.
The next court date for the Sunset Waste suit is not yet scheduled. It will be a long process with many people watching.
If Sunset wins the lawsuit, and privatized residential trash service succeeds, there's a good chance the city could be facing another lawsuit. Legal fees alone could be a challenge to pay considering the City was looking for $4 million in revenue from the deal with Mid-Valley.
That's a quarter of what the city could have to pay out in penalties. Sunset Waste only serviced about ten percent of the people Mid-Valley is to take on. The contracts bear similarities, although punative damages for the commercial dealings would likely be dwarfed.
"Bankruptcy" is a word that's been used by people on both sides of the argument. Today, a spokesperson for Sunset Waste used it to describe what could happen to Fresno if the first, or what could be many, legal challenges do not go the city's way.