Dalton & Tomich plc is honored to represent St. Vincent DePaul Society and Planet Aid in its legal action agains the Houston, Texas company, ATRS, who, improperly removed collection bins of both charities. As reported in Crains Detroit Business on Sunday, September 23, 2013:
“The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Detroit and Maryland-based Planet Aid have filed a lawsuit against Houston-based American Textile Recycling Services, claiming illegal seizure and disposal of their donation bins at several sites in Southeast Michigan beginning last fall.
In a suit filed Sept. 18 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, the two nonprofits allege that American Textile contracted with Jackson-based JA Hauling to remove and dispose of bins at certain locations as part of a plan to conceal its involvement.
The intent, according to the suit, was to pave the way for for-profit American Textile to put its own bins in those locations.
St. Vincent de Paul Detroit and Planet Aid are seeking the return of the bins — which were scrapped at American Textile's direction, JA Hauling said in a deposition — the contents of the bins, and damages in excess of $75,000 to help cover lost donations for the time the bins weren't in place.
Bloomfield Hills law firm Dalton & Tomich PLC is representing St. Vincent de Paul and Planet Aid.
“We sued the company that was picking (the bins) up and destroying them and traced it back to this for-profit company, ATRS, out of Houston,” said Bill Brazier, executive director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Detroit. “We asked for permission to place our boxes from landowners around the area, and our boxes were removed. … ATRS had no legal right to remove them.”
A message was left for American Textile's executive director of community relations Friday afternoon at the company's Houston headquarters. An email to the company's media contact address was not returned.
Additional phone calls to headquarters were not answered.
The company collects used clothing, shoes and toys and sells them in emerging countries. A portion of the proceeds are then donated to a charity, the company says on its website.
The suit alleges American Textile solicits donations in several states, attaching the names of well-known nonprofit organizations to encourage more donations.
The removal of Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Planet Aid and other nonprofit bins occurred in Allen Park, Milford, Pontiac and a couple of other locations, said Dan Dalton, partner at Dalton & Tomich.
According to the suit, American Textile sent letters under JA Hauling's name, notifying the nonprofits that they had 72 hours to remove bins from certain sites.
American Textile was able to persuade property owners or managers to rescind permission for the nonprofit bins in some cases, and had them sign the letters. In other cases, American Textile used fraudulent signatures on the letters it sent to the nonprofits, according to the court filing.
In an Aug. 9 deposition, James Ball, the one-man crew making up JA Hauling, said he initially got involved through a friend who worked at American Textile's Jackson office. Company officials directed him to file for his assumed business name, JA Hauling, he said. They then laid out a process for making bin pickups.
American Textile then provided him a list of bins to pick up, along with paperwork showing it had sent a certified letter to the nonprofit owning the bin. If after 72 hours the bins were still there, he was to remove them, he said.
In the suit, the nonprofits claim the letters were mailed late in the week, making it too late to pick up bins by the 72-hour deadline.
Ball said in the deposition that he donated the contents of the bins to the Goodwill store in Jackson and took anything that wasn't suitable for donation to the dump. He said he was asked to bill the company for removal of furniture, clothing or garbage, but not mention the bins.
Brazier said St. Vincent de Paul has about 200 bins in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, St. Clair and Monroe counties, and the donations produce about 60 percent of the total store inventory for its 11 thrift stores, as well as items given to people in need at no charge.”
Sherri Welch: (313) 446-1694, [email protected]. Twitter: @sherriwelch