By Elizabeth Coss
Note: The lawsuit has been dismissed since publication of the original story.
Youngstown State University has been hit with a lawsuit following the bidding process executed to hire a company to complete the Arlington Parking Facility Project.
Marucci & Gaffney Excavating Company filed the lawsuit alongside a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on the university, aiming to prevent awarding the contract to Steel Valley Contractors LLC.
The project, which sought to place a new surface lot in the location of the now-removed M-60 parking deck, could be on pause depending on the preliminary injunction, which would block Steel Valley Contractors LLC from starting the lot’s construction, if granted by a judge.
Danny O’Connell, director of Support Services, declined to comment on the lawsuit and its effects until a resolution is met.
According to court documents obtained from the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas, the motions, which were filed Sept. 28, alleged Youngstown State University violated the state of Ohio’s competitive bidding laws, as well as its own published Request for Proposals.
Marucci & Gaffney and Steel Valley Contractors LLC were the only two contractors to place bids on the project by the deadline, which was set for Sept. 14 according to court documents.
Allegedly, Steel Valley Contractors LLC failed to comply with several requirements which were necessary in YSU’s Request for Proposals.
One of the alleged compliance failures was to include a mandatory $25,000 allowance in a base bid.
The second alleged failure was to properly calculate cost extensions in the base bid, which according to the lawsuit, would make Steel Valley Contractors LLC’s bid non-responsive.
The Request for Proposals mirrors Ohio Revised Code according to the lawsuit, and states, “[A] bidder for a contract shall be considered responsive if the bidder’s bid responds to the contract documents in all material respects and contains no irregularities or deviations from the contract documents that would affect the amount of the bid or otherwise give the bidder a competitive advantage.”
According to Ohio Revised Code and stated in court documents, YSU is required to award the construction contract to the “lowest responsive and responsible bidder.”
Obtained lawsuit documents allege that Steel Valley Contractors LLC’s bid of $861,981.69 was $621.24 higher than Marucci & Gaffney Excavating Company’s base bid, which was $861,360.45.
Also alleged within the lawsuit, in a letter from Sept. 26, YSU stated to honor Steel Valley Contractors LLC’s original base bid of $810,000 for the entire project’s work. The lawsuit continues, alleging this would be a violation of Ohio’s competitive bidding laws, by allowing Steel Valley Contractors LLC to learn the prices that other bidders have submitted and then change its own.
According to the lawsuit, “Section 4.2 of the [Request for Proposals] provides bidders the opportunity to withdraw their bid if they learn of a ‘clerical mistake’ or ‘unintentional omission of a substantial quantity of work, labor or material directly in the compilation of the bid amount.’”
The preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 13 in the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas.