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Firm Obtains Reversal in Elbert County Solid Waste Ordinance Case

Elbert County’s solid waste ordinance was challenged by a company that was denied a special-use permit to operate a landfill in Elbert County—claiming that the ordinance violated the dormant Commerce Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The trial court agreed with the landfill company and granted it summary judgment on both dormant Commerce Clause grounds and Equal Protection grounds.But on appeal, the Georgia Supreme Court reversed and found that the landfill company had failed to exhaust their administrative remedies prior to filing its lawsuit against Elbert County and thus the Court erred in addressing the Equal Protection claim. The Supreme Court also reversed the trial court’s holding that the ordinance facially discriminated against interstate commerce and remanded to the Superior Court for it to apply the Pike balancing test, which evaluates whether the legitimate local interest outweighs any indirect effects on interstate commerce.

Brinson Askew Berry’s Appellate Practice Group, led by Frank Beacham, Lee Carter, and Norman Fletcher, served as co-counsel in the appeal alongside lead counsel Jenkins & Bowen, P.C.

The case is styled Elbert County, et al. v. Sweet City Landfill, LLC, et al., Case Number S15A0489.