Roxie firm drops lawsuit over Multi-Modal

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 29, 2009

A Roxie construction company’s challenge to the bid selection onthe Brookhaven Multi-Modal Facility has been withdrawn, Jacksonattorney Ayres Haxton said Monday morning, removing a roadbloackthat could have derailed the entire project.

Scarbrough Construction of Roxie had put in a bid on the projectof $836,000, while Paul Jackson and Son had submitted a $932,000bid. City officials said Scarbrough’s bid was not accepted in spiteof the difference because of faulty paperwork. After some legalwrangling and discussion of timeframes, Haxton said ScarbroughConstruction owner Jan Scarbrough had withdrawn his complaintbecause he does not want to hold up the project any longer.

“Everybody just wants this thing to happen, nobody wants toprevent it from happening,” Haxton said of the project, which hastaken almost a decade to get underway.

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Haxton said Scarbrough’s bid was thrown out because they failedto enclose a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise form pursuant toMississippi Department of Transportation regulations. Once he hadrealized his mistake, Haxton said Scarbrough ran advertisements inthe newspaper soliciting minority contractors.

Meanwhile, Haxton said the contractor that Paul Jackson and Sonhad submitted as a DBE is on the inactive list and does notactually qualify as a DBE anymore. He said officials from PaulJackson and son had threatened the city with a lawsuit if thecontract was not awarded to them.

“Mr. Jackson submitted the page about the DBEs with his, but Mr.Jackson listed a masonry contractor in Hazlehurst as a DBE, and hemay have been at some point in his existence but is not now on thelist of DBEs,” Haxton said.

Still, city officials said in court documents that the decisionwas based on paperwork.

“The Municipality asserts that its decision was not the resultof the threat of impending litigation but was, in fact, based onsubstantial evidence and is neither arbitrary nor capricious,” thedocument, filed last Thursday at the Lincoln County Circuit Clerk’soffice, said in sresponse to the Scarbrough suit.

Haxton said the view he and his client had taken on the conflictwas that Jackson filed a document that had erroneous information onit, while Scarbrough’s document was accidentally left out.

“Our view of that is that puts them on equal footing,” he said.”What’s in the balance here is $96,000 of taxpayer money, and theboard of aldermen, as shepherds of taxpayers’ money should go withthe lower bid.”

And the language in the bid packet left room to award the bid tothe low bidder in spite of the omitted paperwork, Haxton said.

“The way it works legally, I’ve read the law some – is the boardof aldermen, short of this misrepresentation that could have beenan honest mistake – it’s easy enough to see who’s a DBE and whoisn’t – short of that, I think that language gives them thelatitude to go either way,” Haxton said. “Why they chose to go withhigher bid is that guy was hollering and stamping his feet.”

So Scarbrough’s decision to withdraw his complaint against thecity was made when discussions indicated that holding up, orpotentially having to rebid the process, could cause the city tolose federal money that is needed to complete the project. Thus,Haxton said, Scarbrough decided to bow out gracefully.

“He didn’t want to be seen as a spoiler. The bully with the highbid won,” Haxton said. “I see this happen over and over again. Itjust happens when you’re the little guy.”

With Scarbrough’s bowing out, the project should hopefully notexperience any more holdups, Haxton said.

“His feeling about this, he’s outraged, he’s thinking, ‘I putthis bid together, risked $96,000 on the table, I won and I’mwalking away with my hat in my hand,'” Haxton said. “When you win,you’re supposed to win.”

Scarbrough Construction recently completed work on the newBrookhaven Police Department, and has also done numerous otherprojects around the city, Haxton said.

City officials declined comment on the possible litigation.