Jackson City Council says mayor brought in Richard’s Disposal, he should pay them

Richard's Disposal truck
Richard's Disposal truck(WLBT)
Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 12:34 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Jackson City Council says the mayor conspired with Richard’s Disposal to bring the firm to the city, and he, not the council, should have to pay the bill.

In July, Richard’s filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi seeking $1.6 million in restitution for picking up residents’ trash.

The company argues that it should be paid because it has “expended significant time and resources developing, preparing, delivering and otherwise providing COJ and the residents of Jackson.”

The council, though, argues that it never approved a contract with the company and legally cannot pay them.

It further states that RDI knew it did not have a contract with the city, even though Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba issued it a notice to proceed.

“The mayor’s actions resulted in the monetary loss to the plaintiff, and the mayor should be responsible for making the plaintiff whole,” attorneys for the council wrote.

As part of its cross claim, the council argues that the mayor conspired with the company “to accomplish a lawful purpose unlawfully,” and that damages to the council resulted.

Richard’s filed its complaint in July, seeking payment for two months of picking up residential trash. The firm began working in the Capital City on April 1, after Waste Management’s emergency contract expired.

“The city council... never requested or obligated RDI to collect garbage and did not issue any notice to proceed or authorize the issuance of any notice to proceed,” council attorneys wrote.

The council rejected bringing on Richard’s on at least four occasions. Lumumba vetoed those votes, but a later court decision determined he did not have the authority to do so.

Lumumba issued a notice to proceed to the New Orleans-based company in February. In a letter on April 1, the mayor again told Richard’s that it was “the city of Jackson’s selected vendor to provide emergency solid waste services beginning April 1.”

In that letter, the mayor cited a ruling from Justice Jess Dickinson, which he said gave him the ability to veto a negative vote of the council. Dickinson later vacated that ruling.

In July, another judge ruled Lumumba could not veto a no vote, saying it was prohibited under city and state codes.

“The mayor... submitted a notice to proceed, as pleaded by RDI and confessed by the city of Jackson in its answer. Thus, all damages complained of resulted from the actions of both RDI and the actions of the cross-defendant the mayor,” attorneys for the council wrote.

That same day the mayor issued his notice to proceed, Deshun Martin, an independent attorney representing the city council, sent a cease and desist letter to Richard’s, informing the company that the council “has not authorized any payments for any garbage pickup... and will not authorize any such payments. Ever.”

“The damages and injuries alleged by the plaintiff are the result[s] in whole or in part of the actions or inactions of the plaintiff and/or other parties, not the city council,” attorneys wrote. “RDI proceeded to perform under an alleged contract, which the plaintiff knew or should have known was not a valid agreement.”

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