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Judge: Evidence shows Waste Management had ‘anti-competitive goals’ and ‘lack of business ethics’

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Workers at Waste Management’s recycling facility in Pembroke Pines. Photo: WPLG/Local 10

By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org

A Broward judge has ruled that Davie businessman Ron Bergeron can seek punitive damages against Waste Management and LGL Recycling, a company controlled by Palm Beach trash kingpin Anthony Lomangino, for allegedly conspiring to ruin his flourishing recycling business.

“Bergeron has complained throughout this litigation that it was Waste Management’s plan to put Sun Bergeron out of business as its competitor (and destroy Bergeron’s interest in it),” wrote Broward Chief Judge Jack Tuter.

“The evidence proffered in support of this motion illustrates Waste Management and LGL’s calculated efforts to achieve its anti-competitive goals and its lack of business ethics, including spreading falsehoods and misstatements of fact and intent to antitrust regulators; to Sun Bergeron’s governmental customers; and to Bergeron.”

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Broward Chief Judge Jack Tuter

Tuter held that the evidence produced for his inspection in court papers and during two days of pre-trial hearings “sufficiently outlines a scheme to put Sun Bergeron out of business by depleting its assets, interfering with or taking control of its government contracts and closing the deal [despite] knowing it needed Bergeron’s approval.”

At the same time, Tuter denied Bergeron’s request that it be allowed to seek punitive damages from defendants Lomangino and LGL executives Charles Lomangino, his son; nephew Charles Gusmano, and former Sun Bergeron board member John Casagrande.

The judge cautioned, however, that his Aug. 5 findings were preliminary. “Nothing in this order should be construed the Court has made any determination as to whether the plaintiff [Bergeron] can actually prove by clear and convincing evidence, their right to recover punitive damages,” he said.

Six days later, on Aug. 11, LGL attorney Bruce Rogow asked the Fourth District Court of Appeals to quash Tuter’s order, saying Tuter’s order did not follow proper statutory procedures. On Friday, Rogow asked Tuter to delay the non-jury trial, now set to begin Oct. 11, until the appeals court rules. Today, August 24, Tuter denied postponing the trial saying the request was “premature.”

A JOINT VENTURE GOES SOUR

Bergeron’s company, Bergeron Environmental and Recycling, had once been partners with LGL when it was known as Sun Recycling. In 2012-2013, their joint venture, Sun Bergeron, broke Waste Management’s 25-year-old monopoly on the county’s disposal business by contracting with 17 Broward cities to process tons of their recycled trash. The change led to substantial savings for those cities and taxpayers.

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Anthony Lomangino

Sun Recycling was owned by Anthony Lomangino’s Southern Waste Systems (SWS). And in January 2016, in the middle of Sun Bergeron’s five-year recycling contracts with those 17 municipalities, SWS sold itself to Waste Management, which owns the Monarch Hill landfill in North Broward. The price of the asset purchase agreement was $525 million.

Waste Management’s acquisition of SWS both jacked up the cost of recycling, in some cases to twice what Sun Bergeron charged, while at the same time leading to a significant reduction in recycling across Broward. More trash, including trash that was once recycled, is now being dumped at Monarch Hill.

Bergeron Environmental quickly sued for breach of contract and conspiracy. Bergeron says Lomangino, a prominent financial supporter of former President Donald Trump, secretly negotiated the deal behind his back. Bergeron also alleges that Waste Management misled state and federal anti-trust regulators to win approval of the SWS deal.

WASTE MANAGEMENT ASSURANCES

According to Tuter’s order, “Waste Management in numerous writings unabashedly assured the Joint Venture’s governmental customers that ‘nothing would change’ for them once Waste Management took control of the Joint Venture’s contracts; Waste Management represented to those customers that Waste Management intended to perform the ‘Sun Work’ under the Joint Venture.

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Davie businessman Ron Bergeron watching 2019 court proceedings in his civil case against Waste Management

“Bergeron complains that Waste Management’s public statements were untruthful and calculated to mislead,” Tuter’s order goes on. “Waste Management never disclosed to Bergeron, to the Joint Venture’s customers or to regulators that in order to justify its purchase price of $525 million, the revenue and waste tons from the Sun Bergeron contracts had to be converted to Waste Management’s exclusive use. Simply put, the plaintiff argues Waste Management could not achieve its necessary profits and recoup its investment in the transaction if Waste Management performed or renewed Sun Bergeron’s contracts on their same terms, conditions and prices.”

“If the evidence at trial supports the Plaintiff’s proffer it would establish that LGL and Waste set out on a path or scheme to hide from antitrust regulators the truth about the transaction and close a deal they necessarily knew was tainted,” the order says. “LGL and Waste were so concerned that Bergeron would sue for being both left out of the transaction but proceeding with the closing despite knowing the[y] needed Bergeron’s consent to complete the deal that they set aside $20 million dollars for indemnity.”

The bench trial, whenever it begins, is expected to last five weeks. Judge Tuter will decide not only the law, but the facts. No matter which side prevails, appeals are anticipated.

Should Bergeron prove its right to recover punitive damages, a second trial will be held regarding the amount, if any, Bergeron would receive. Tuter’s order says he will permit “financial discovery” of the defendants should that be necessary.

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Latest comments

  • About time the Waste Management illegal monopoly scheme was addressed in court. The Florida League of Cities including several Broward municipalities have been stymied in holding Waste Management accountable. The problem being that the former Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi laid down an effective smoke screen to hide the illegal acquisition providing cover for Waste Management to circumvent anti-monopoly law. Once they had the Sun Systems in their possession they could manipulate Waste and Recycling contracts across Broward. As a legal saying goes; “Possession is nine tenths of the law”, so there was little Broward Cities could do to regain a competitive climate. With DeSantis and his legal state powers firmly entrenched in the Waste Management camp, it is left up to the Civil Courts to address the issue. Unfortunately there is no civil remedy for all the Broward municipalities screwed by this deal, keeping in line with the ruthless history of Waste Management founded by a Chicago thug.

  • WHAT does Donald Trump have to do with this case. NOTHING. But the writer slipped his name in, for personal motives no doubt.

    Im cheering for Bergerons win. Im also cheering for Trump to throw Communist Joe Biden out in his ass in 3 years. Why did I mention Trump ? Personal motives

  • HEY CARL BUEHLER. You made many charges against Florida Republicans. How about presenting some proof.

    Living behind the lines in Communust Broward I have to wear waders, as the BS from the Left keeps getting higher. Bergeron also wears high boots, as he has to wade thru the BS too.

  • If enough facts get out to citizens/voters about DeSantis hijincks he won’t get second term. It’s Crist to lose unless Crist gets waylaid. Dirty backroom deals like this can’t be stopped but voters can stop electing with backroom strong arm tactics. As to djt and 2024 our America the Beautiful will have so much inflicted on us djt won’t be able to rescue it.

  • Hey JB, you appear to be an avid reader of the Bulldog; here are source materials on how Waste Management purchased favor thru the Republican party, influencing elected officials to cover up its illegal monopoly. REMEMBER THE Result: We the taxpayers are picking up the tab for illegal corporate profit.
    The kickback goes to the Republican party as political “contributions”. Sweet deal,

    https://www.floridabulldog.org/2019/07/waste-management-story-big-contributions-regulators-who-sit-on-hands/
    “The INACTION of regulators is curious because it follows a torrent of noteworthy federal and state POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS that went to those who oversee them.

    The Florida Attorney General’s Office under Moody’s predecessor, Pam Bondi, gave its green light to the Waste Management/SWS deal in December 2015. In the six years before, as Bondi campaigned for election and re-election, Waste Management gave more than $150,000 to the Republican Party of Florida, Gov. Rick Scott and Bondi, Florida Bulldog has reported.

    Bondi, now a partner in the influential Washington, D.C. lobbying firm Ballard Partners, and now-Sen. Scott received little of that money directly. State election records show that instead nearly $147,000 went to the Republican Party, which recycled much of it back to the campaigns of Bondi, Scott and other top Republicans.

    Trash mogul Anthony Lomangino, who made millions when he sold SWS’s assets to Waste Management, gave $150,000 last year to the Patriot Legal Expense Fund Trust. Internal Revenue Service records show the trust was set up to help President Donald Trump’s associates caught up in ex-special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    Two years before, Lomangino co-hosted an Oct. 24, 2016 breakfast fundraiser with then- candidate Trump at his Mar-a-Lago Club, where Lomangino is a member. Attendees paid $10,000 each, or gave or raised $100,000 per couple.
    Federal Election Commission records show that since 2016 Lomangino personally has contributed more than $330,000 to Trump’s campaign and a joint fundraising committee, Trump Victory. Lomangino also gave heavily to the Republican National Committee, while spreading thousands more around to Republican parties in more than 20 states.

    Lynda Lomangino, his wife, often doubled her husband’s contributions on the same day. For example, on Jan. 9, 2018 contributed $125,000 each to Trump Victory, and a month later, on Feb. 7, each wrote four identical checks to the Republican National Committee totaling $182,100. The grand total on those two days: $250,000 to Trump Victory and $364,200 to the RNC.”

    More background at:

    https://www.floridabulldog.org/2018/06/bondis-office-doesnt-want-to-answer-questions-about-waste-management-antitrust-probe/

    https://www.floridabulldog.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/scan0107.pdf

    https://www.floridabulldog.org/2018/05/as-broward-recycling-crisis-boils-bondis-antitrust-regulators-kept-secret/

  • Is this the same waste management that was handed the contract for Brevard County? Prices are three times higher & service sucks.
    JB ‘s comments sound a lot like Don Trump Jr’s crap. Don Jr spends an awful lot of time on social media & right wing shows spewing his venom. Considering the millions Trump and his offspring scammed off US tax payers for themselves & their traitorous friends , I guess the boy can’t be blamed for wanting his Daddy back in control. 😎

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