Seattle, Washington Trash Hauling

Ventenbergs v. The City of Seattle
IJ Challenges Government Created Monopolies that Violate Civil Rights

Seattle’s trash industry uses government power to monopolize the industry and protect itself from competition. The Institute for Justice fought to break up this monopoly and restore the civil rights of all Washington entrepreneurs who simply want to earn an honest living free from discriminatory government regulation.

In 2001, the City of Seattle declared hauling construction waste from building sites illegal—unless the hauling was done by one of two large, politically connected corporations. The creation of this monopoly made illegal business conducted for years between Seattle entrepreneur Joe Ventenbergs, who owns a hauling business, and his Lynwood construction client, Ron Haider. IJ filed a lawsuit in 2003 challenging the City’s waste-hauling monopoly as an unconstitutional abridgement of economic liberty.

IJ litigated the case all the way up to the Washington Supreme Court, which, on February 21, 2008, upheld the monopoly, reasoning that the provision of waste hauling service is a “government service” to which constitutional protections do not apply. Three justices forcefully dissented, arguing that the City’s trash hauling monopoly was “a textbook example of governmental corporate favoritism to advance the profits of the privileged few at the expense, and the extinction, of any potential competitors.”

Notwithstanding the setback, IJ-WA will continue the fight for economic liberty in the Evergreen State and will not rest until the right of all Washingtonians to earn an honest living has been secured.

Essential Background


Backgrounder: One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Monopoly

Client Photo - none available

Latest Release: Washington Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Economic Protectionism (February 21, 2008)

Client Video - none available


Legal Briefs and Decisions

Launch Release: Seattle Trashes the Free Market: Entrepreneurs Challenge Seattle’s Government-Imposed Construction Waste Hauling Monopoly (May 13, 2003)

Washington Supreme Court Opinion (February 21, 2008) (PDF)






Case Timeline

Filed Lawsuit:


May 13, 2003

Court Filed:


King County Superior Court



February 21, 2008: WA Supreme Court upholds Seattle monopoly

February 24, 2004: King County Superior Court upheld Seattle monopoly

February 14, 2005: Appellate court upheld monopoly




Next Key Date:






Additional Releases

Maps, Charts and Facts

Release: Washington Supreme Court Hears Civil Rights Appeal (March 22, 2007)

none available

Release: Washington Supreme Court Will Hear Economic Liberty Appeal (January 4, 2007)

Op-eds, News Articles and Links

Release: IJ Washington Chapter Asks State High Court To Break Open Seattle Monopolies(May 4, 2005)

Article: IJ Argues for Economic Liberty Before Washington Supreme Court, Liberty & Law, April, 2007

Release: Seattle Entrepreneurs Ask Washington Supreme Court To Strike Down Government-Created Trash Monopolies (March 18, 2005)

Article: High Court to review exclusive contracts for waste management, Seattle Times, January 5, 2007

Release: Court Decision Approves Seattle’s Construction Waste Monopolies (February 14, 2005)

Article: Trucker in fight for the long haul, Seattle Times, February 25, 2004

Release: Seattle Entrepreneurs and IJ Appeal Decision Upholding Seattle Trash Monopolies (March 8, 2004)

Article: What is City Council thinking?, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 25, 2003

Release: Court Upholds Seattle Trash Monopolies, Seattle Entrepreneurs and IJ to Appeal (February 24, 2004)

Op-Ed: Waste monopoly trashes free market, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 16, 2003

Article: Small firm sues city over hauling rules, Seattle Times, May 14, 2003

Article: Small haulers must bow out of construction cleanup jobs, Seattle Times, March 8, 2003

Email Address
Please enter a valid email address

Institute for Justice
901 N. Glebe Road, Suite 900
Arlington, VA 22203
Tel 703.682.9320, Fax 703.682.9321
© 1997-2015