News & Insights

Dykema Legal Team Successfully Works to Overturn Texas City’s Plastic Bag Ban

August 19, 2016

A team of attorneys at Dykema, a leading national law firm, successfully represented 20 members of the Texas Legislature in high-profile efforts to overturn a plastic bag ban in Laredo, Texas. The victory – which could affect other Texas cities with similar bans – comes after a lower court upheld the ban following a legal challenge by the Laredo Merchants Association.

The case, Laredo Merchants Association v. City of Laredo, Texas, began in March 2015 when city merchants unsuccessfully challenged the bag ban in Judicial District Court. The merchants then appealed to the 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio and were joined by three state senators and 17 state representatives.

Represented by Dykema, the legislators filed an amicus brief that argued the bag ban was preempted and forbidden by Texas Health & Safety Code § 361.0961, which says cities cannot adopt a regulation to “prohibit or restrict, for solid waste management purposes, the sale or use of a container or package in a manner not authorized by state law.” A 2-1 appellate court ruling on August 17, 2016, accepted this preemption argument and overturned the lower court decision, thereby invalidating the Laredo bag ban and calling into serious question the legality of other municipal bag bans across Texas.

Led by Chris Kratovil, the Dykema team representing the legislators consisted of Kristina Williams and Matthew Rinaldi, who is also one of the legislators named in the amicus brief. As a member of the state House, Rinaldi represents District 115 in Northwest Dallas County, Texas.

“With so many state legislators weighing in as friends of the court, this was an extremely unusual case,” said Chris Kratovil, Office Managing Member of Dykema's Dallas office. “But it was also an important case, as it protects the state’s dedication to a business-friendly and consistent regulatory environment – which many people believe is a large part of the ‘Texas Miracle’ of growth we’ve seen in recent years.”