Baltimore County sues paper recycling firm for $1.2 million Company hasn't paid since Oct., suit alleges

February 07, 1996|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County is suing a recycling company for more than $1 million, alleging it has failed to pay for most of the recyclable paper it had contracted to buy from local landfills since last summer.

Prins Recycling (Maryland) Corp. agreed in July to a one-year contract to collect recyclable paper from the landfill storage sites and pay the county $122.50 a ton.

But since the fall, the company -- based in Fort Lee, N.J., with a facility on Chesapeake Avenue in Baltimore -- has been picking up paper without paying for it and owes the local government $1.2 million, according to a civil suit filed in the county Circuit Court last month.

"They are in arrears from October forward, and we filed suit against them after demanding payment," said Virginia W. Barnhart, the county attorney.

Lee M. Feldman, vice president and general counsel at Prins, said yesterday, "Given our current discussions with Baltimore County, I'm not in a position to comment."

A decline in the market value of recyclable paper may figure in the dispute.

Richard Clements, vice president and general manager at Inner Harbor Recycling, a similar company, said the market value of recyclable paper was at an unusual high when Prins made the deal.

He termed the amount Prins is to pay "an outrageously high price," in the face of a going rate of $5 a ton or less in the Yellow Sheet, a monthly pricing index accepted industrywide.

"A deal's a deal; they should pay" the county, Mr. Clements said. "But it was a bad deal to start with."

Ms. Barnhart said Prins was the only bidder to conform to the county's specifications of a per-ton price of over $100.

The court file includes a letter from Mr. Feldman stating that the contract is null and void. He would not elaborate on the letter yesterday, saying it would be "counterproductive" to discuss it.

County attorneys say the contract is valid. "We believe there's a fully enforceable contract," Ms. Barnhart said. "It's a fairly simple collection case. We'd just like to be paid."

The suit was filed Jan. 11; Prins has 30 days from being served to file a response.

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