Johnson Fistel Helps Recover $7.85 Million for USA Waste Customers

The Honorable John S. Meyer, Superior Court Judge for the County of San Diego, recently granted final approval of a $7.85 million settlement in Eagle Canyon Owners’ Association v. USA Waste of California, Inc., Case No. 37-2018-00005897, a class action alleging that USA Waste overbilled its California open market commercial and industrial customers in breach of its service agreements. The settlement became effective on January 17, 2020. Beginning February 14, 2020, the net settlement proceeds will be paid to USA Waste customers who were parties to a written service agreement with USA Waste at any time from January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2016, excluding only those customers who contracted with USA Waste for the first time starting on or after January 1, 2015. No claim forms are required for class members to receive a payment.

Eagle Canyon originally filed this class action in November 2016 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California against USA Waste and its indirect parent company, Waste Management, Inc. The federal action alleged claims for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unfair competition in violation of California’s Business and Professions Code, unjust enrichment, and declaratory relief, all arising out of allegations that USA Waste overbilled Eagle Canyon and thousands of other California commercial and industrial customers who contracted directly with USA Waste under a standard form service agreement. After later refiling the case in state court in February 2018, alleging similar claims against USA Waste only, USA Waste sought to dismiss all of Eagle Canyon’s claims. The court ultimately found that Eagle Canyon’s claims for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing had been adequately alleged, and it allowed the case to proceed. Following several more months of extensive investigation and hard-fought litigation, the parties agreed to settle the case for $7.85 million, representing approximately 50% – 90% of the total, potential classwide damages, according to Eagle Canyon’s expert.

“After over three years of extensive investigation and hard-fought litigation, the settlement represents an outstanding result for class members,” said Frank J. Johnson, Managing Partner of Johnson Fistel, who negotiated the settlement on behalf of the class members. He continued: “The settlement is all-cash, non-reversionary, and non-claims made so that individual cash payments are automatically being mailed to eligible class members without them needing to submit a claim form.”

Eagle Canyon, the court-approved class representative, agreed that the settlement is an excellent result for the class. “When I learned that the settlement amount was between 50 and 90 percent of the total damages, I was very impressed with my counsel’s ability to negotiate for such a high amount for the benefit of the class.” An Eagle Canyon representative further complimented the Johnson Fistel team, stating that she “found the lawyers and paralegals at Johnson Fistel to be first-rate. They kept me informed at every stage of this matter, they were responsive, I found their ideas to be creative, and their relentless approach caused me to believe they were passionate about having my best interest and the best interest of the class in mind.”

Johnson Fistel attorneys Frank J. Johnson and Chase M. Stern serving as counsel for the class led the prosecution of the litigation for the firm and helped achieve this superb result for USA Waste’s customers.

Eagle Canyon Owners’ Association v. USA Waste of California, Inc., Case No. 37-2018-00005897

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