Hicks Thomas Wins Open Records Battle, Forcing Houston to Release Emails on EcoHub Recycling Contract

HOUSTON – Hicks Thomas LLP won an open records court order compelling the city of Houston to turn over emails related to the city’s puzzling rejection of recycling company EcoHub LLC for a costlier, less effective recycling program.

State District Judge Kristen Hawkins ordered the city to produce the emails sought by EcoHub under the Texas Public Information Act by Jan. 5, 2018. Some of the emails were requested almost a year ago, but the city had refused to provide them.

“We believe these emails could reveal the decision-making behind the city of Houston’s mystifying reversal on its recycling contract,” said Stewart Hoffer, a Hicks Thomas trial lawyer representing EcoHub. “This involves the public’s money and the public’s right to know.”

EcoHub uses innovative technology enabling it to recycle virtually all household waste in a way that allows residents to throw all refuse into one bin, eliminating the need for sorting, according to company CEO George Gitschel.

“I invented a system that will basically refine garbage into new products, leading to the elimination of landfills and significant economic benefit to Houston,” he said.

EcoHub was selected in 2015 to recycle city waste. But after the election of Mayor Sylvester Turner, the city made a new round of bid requests and the mayor recommended Spanish company FCC Environmental for a 15-year contract costing $48 million.

According to the Hicks Thomas lawsuit filed on behalf of EcoHub, “the FCC proposal would cost the City nearly 350 percent more than the bid that EcoHub submitted.”

The lawsuit is EcoHub v. City of Houston, Cause No. 2017-50825, in Harris County 11th District Court.

Founded in 1997, Texas-based Hicks Thomas LLP is a premier litigation firm representing plaintiffs and defendants across the nation. With offices in Houston, Austin, Beaumont and Amarillo, Texas, and Sacramento, California, the firm provides in-depth experience in cases involving oil and gas, environmental, complex commercial, toxic tort, construction, products liability, corporate governance, securities, banking, insurance coverage, transportation, trade secrets and business litigation. Visit the firm at http://www.hicks-thomas.com.