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Harris County, Texas, et al. v. International Paper Company, et al.

We represented Waste Management, Inc. and Waste Management of Texas, Inc. in a case brought by Harris County, Texas alleging over 40 years of discharges into the San Jacinto River from a dump site containing paper mill waste that was abandoned in the late 1960’s.  Citing various sections of the Texas Water Code and Texas Administrative Code, Harris County sought daily penalties totaling over $3 billion from Waste Management and McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Corporation (a/k/a “MIMC”), the company that performed the disposal operations in the 1960s, and which many years later became a wholly owned subsidiary of Waste Management of Texas, Inc.   Shortly before trial, the court granted a summary judgment dismissal of all claims against Waste Management, Inc.  After the close of the evidence at trial, the court granted a directed verdict holding that the waste site constituted one facility for statutory purposes, meaning that Harris County could not multiply the penalties by three.  On the morning closing arguments were scheduled, Harris County agreed to settle with Waste Management of Texas and MIMC for $29.2 million.