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Flow Control Motion for New Trial

Flow Control Motion for New Trial

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Published by: cityhallblog on Nov 27, 2012
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DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL WITH SUPPORTING BRIEF Page 1
 
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTFOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXASDALLAS DIVISION NATIONAL SOLID WASTES §MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION, et al. §§Plaintiffs, §§ Civil Action Nov. § 3:11-CV-03200-O§ ECFTHE CITY OF DALLAS, et al. §§Defendants. §
DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL WITH SUPPORTING BRIEF
 Pursuant to Rule 59 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Defendants move for entryof an order granting a new trial, and in support of their motion state as follows:
I.
 
INTRODUCTION
The Court entered its Memorandum Opinion and Order (ECF 77, hereafter the “Order”)and Final Judgment (ECF 78) on October 16, 2012. In the Order, the Court held that the City of Dallas (“City”) Ordinance No. 28427 (September 28, 2011) (the “Flow Control Ordinance” or the “Ordinance”) (i) was not preempted by state law, (ii) was not void for vagueness, (iii) wasnot going to be arbitrarily enforced, and (iv) did not impermissibly delegate authority to theCity’s Sanitation Director.
1
However the Order directed Defendants not to enforce theOrdinance against some City franchisees – including some of the Plaintiffs – because the Courtheld the Ordinance impaired their franchises in violation of the Contract Clause of the U.S.Constitution.
Order 
at 12. The Court further held that the Flow Control Ordinance violated theDue Course of Law Provision of the Texas Constitution.
 Id.
at 12-18. The Court’s decision was
1
Plaintiffs also amended their complaint to drop claims under the federal Sherman Antitrust Act prior to theissuance of the Order.
Case 3:11-cv-03200-O Document 87 Filed 11/13/12 Page 1 of 11 PageID 1977
 
DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL WITH SUPPORTING BRIEF Page 2
 
 based, in part, on its interpretation of the City’s solid waste franchise agreements, the Ordinance,and case law regarding Contracts Clause of the U.S. Constitution. After first deciding theconstitutional issues, the Court found that franchised Plaintiffs’ claims under the Dallas CityCharter against the defendants who are City Council members were “moot” because it hadalready decided the Contracts Clause constitutional issue in favor of the franchised Plaintiffs.
 Id.
 at 18-22. In granting a permanent injunction against the City, the Court also found that there was“a real and immediate threat of fines and criminal penalties” for Plaintiffs.
 Id.
at 33-34.This Motion sets forth the following five manifest, material, and prejudicial errors of law,each of which provide independent grounds on which this Court must grant a new trial: (1) theOrder does not comply with the fundamental rule of constitutional avoidance; (2) the Order failsto show proper deference to a democratically-elected legislature in favor of an improperlyapplied and unspecified heightened level of scrutiny; (3) the Order is an improper injunctionagainst imminent criminal prosecution in state court; (4) the Order improperly identifies theapplicable date for the injunction – barring enforcement of franchises that commenced before thedate of the Order rather than before a date on which any franchise applicants reasonably shouldhave anticipated the possibility of flow control; and (5) the Order’s literal mandate againstenforcement of “franchise agreements” that commenced before the date of the Order is overly broad because it is not limited to valid solid waste hauler franchises. Accordingly, Defendantsrequest that the Court vacate the Order and Final Judgment and proceed with a new trial.
II.
 
LEGAL STANDARD
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(a)(1)(B) provides that a federal court may grant a newtrial after a nonjury trial for any reason for which a rehearing has heretofore been granted in asuit in equity in federal court. The Fifth Circuit elaborated on this standard by holding that
Case 3:11-cv-03200-O Document 87 Filed 11/13/12 Page 2 of 11 PageID 1978
 
DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL WITH SUPPORTING BRIEF Page 3
 
motions for a new trial must: (1) clearly establish either a manifest error of law or fact; or (2) present newly discovered evidence.
See Simon v. United States
, 891 F.2d 1154, 1159 (5th Cir.1990). Moreover, “[a]ny error of law, if prejudicial, is a good ground for a new trial.”
Colegrove v. Cameron Mach. Co.
, 172 F. Supp. 2d 611, 632 (W.D. Pa. 2001) (
citing 
11C
HARLES
A
LAN
W
RIGHT
,
 
A
RTHUR 
R.
 
M
ILLER 
&
 
M
ARY
K.
 
ANE
,
 
F
EDERAL
P
RACTICE AND
P
ROCEDURE
§ 2805 (1995)).
III.
 
ARGUMENTA.
 
The Order is manifestly erroneous as a matter of law because it does notfollow the rule of constitutional avoidance.
The rule of constitutional avoidance requires that prior to reaching any of theconstitutional questions presented in litigation, federal courts must first consider the non-constitutional grounds for decision – resolving the case on non-constitutional grounds if possible.
Gulf Oil Co. v. Bernard 
, 452 U.S. 89, 99 (1981). This principle, under which a “Court will notdecide a constitutional question if there is some other ground upon which to dispose of the case .. . is a well-established principle governing the prudent exercise of this Court’s jurisdiction.”
 Northwest Austin Mun. Util. Dist. No. One v. Holder 
, 557 U.S. 193, 205 (2009) (
quoting  Escambia County v. McMillan
, 466 U.S. 48, 51 (1984)). Constitutional avoidance is also a“fundamental rule of judicial restraint.”
Three Affiliated Tribes of Berthold Reservation v. Wold  Eng’g 
, 467 U.S. 138, 157 (1984). “[I]f there is one doctrine more deeply rooted than any other in the process of constitutional adjudication, it is that we ought not to pass on questions of constitutionality ... unless such adjudication is unavoidable.”
 Jean v. Nelson
, 472 U.S. 846, 854(1985) (Rehnquist, C.J.) (affirming Circuit Court’s judgment to remand to federal district courtfor consideration of non-constitutional issue instead of constitutional issue) (quotation omitted).
Case 3:11-cv-03200-O Document 87 Filed 11/13/12 Page 3 of 11 PageID 1979

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