The fight over tossing out apartment trash in Charlotte is turning into an even bigger court battle.
In a 2005 money-saving move, Charlotte cut garbage collection at apartments from twice to once a week.
Property owners still wanted a second pickup.
Senior Assistant City Attorney Mujeeb Shah-Khan said the city offered to absorb landfill tipping fees if owners used one company, Republic.
“No good deed goes unpunished," Shah-Khan said.
Mark Lerner owns Cedar Greene apartments in north Charlotte. Lerner and O'Leary Waste won a lawsuit against the city claiming Charlotte created a monopoly because other companies couldn't compete.
There are seven dumpsters at Cedar Greene. Lerner said Republic charges $17 to unload each dumpster, which amounts to $6,188 a year.
Lerner claims if the city covered tipping fees for every hauler, he could use O'Leary Waste, which would charge approximately $12 a dumpster. Using O'Leary would save Lerner close to $2,000 a year.
As part of the lawsuit, the judge ordered the city to pay the tipping fees for other companies.
“The judge’s decision locked us in to one particular way of solving the problem, paying everybody," said Shah-Khan. "The city could get rid of the service all together, but under the judge's order, we don't have that right."
Charlotte is turning to the N.C. Court of Appeals by requesting the court step in before the city is forced to pay everyone on Feb. 2.
Lerner plans to keep pushing until trash at his complex is picked up at a better price.
“We believe this is right," Lerner said. “America is built on free market competition. The city ought to abide by that concept.”
Shah-Khan told Eyewitness News the city is establishing a plan if it loses the appeal and is forced to reimburse all haulers.
Charlotte will require companies use trucks that only haul trash from apartments and be monitored by the city.