One of the big questions during the recent strike by workers at waste hauler Republic Services was whether the company would reimburse customers for services that had not been performed for more than a month.
Two San Diego attorneys hope to resolve that issue through a lawsuit they filed this week in US District Court on behalf of a man who paid for services that weren’t provided.
“Defendants intentionally charged plaintiffs and other class members the debit and credit cards for the full amount of recurring charges despite the disruption of services that occurred between December 2021 and January 2022,” the lawsuit filed Tuesday reads.
“Plaintiff and Class did not consent to Defendants charging their debit and credit cards for services that were not provided,” it adds.
Republic Services, which settled the strike Jan. 17 after trash piled on tens of thousands of San Diego County residents and businesses for nearly five weeks, would not discuss the lawsuit allegations. .
“Thank you for reaching out,” the Phoenix-based waste hauler said in a statement Wednesday. “As a rule, Republic Services does not comment on pending litigation.”
Company officials have repeatedly declined to say whether they will reimburse customers who were not served during the walkout – and did so again on Wednesday. They told other media earlier this month that refunds would be handled on a case-by-case basis.
About 250 Republic Services employees, members of Teamsters Local 542, went on strike just over a week before Christmas in a bid to improve their working conditions and raise their wages.
The work stoppage led to a buildup of trash in Chula Vista and parts of San Diego.
Homeowners and shopkeepers began to complain about piles of rubbish and about rats and other pests being attracted to the waste.
San Diego and Chula Vista elected officials have publicly urged Republic to settle the strike.
“Labour unrest, as defined in the agreement, is no excuse for non-performance,” San Diego officials wrote to the company in late December.
The 14-page complaint was filed Tuesday by attorneys Ramin Hariri and Daryoosh Khashayar, who have separate law firms in San Diego’s Carmel Valley neighborhood. The plaintiff is Qihai Chen, who lives near the Carmel Mountain Ranch.
The lawsuit accuses Republic Services and its related company Allied Waste Systems of breach of contract for failing to pick up trash as specified in their agreements with the cities of San Diego and Chula Vista.
He also accuses the companies of unjust enrichment and violation of unfair competition laws.
“Defendants accepted payment and continued to bill Plaintiff and the Group for services they either knew they could not provide or simply decided not to provide,” the complaint states.
The claim further asserts that the case should be granted class action status so that the attorneys can represent other clients who have suffered damages as a result of the strike.
“Each individual class member may not have the resources to bear the burden and expense of individually pursuing the complex and extensive litigation necessary to establish defendants’ liability,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages as well as court costs and attorneys’ fees.
Early last week, Republic Services employees voted roughly 2-to-1 to accept the company’s final offer to raise workers’ hourly wages by nearly $5 an hour. over five years, as well as a one-time bonus of $1,000.