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COA affirms judgment in favor of contractor in bid dispute

March 29, 2012

The Indiana Court of Appeals has found that a school corporation seeking bids for renovations did not acquire the right to enforce a construction company’s mistaken bid.

In East Porter County School Corp. v. Gough, Inc., and Travelers Casualty and Surety Co. of America, No. 64A04-1109-PL-471, East Porter County School Corp. sought bids for additions and renovations. Bids had to be in by 2 p.m. Feb. 5, 2008, and the bids would be opened publicly at 2 p.m. Gough Inc. submitted a bid to complete certain work with a base bid amount of $2,997,000.

Just before the bids went public, Gough realized its bid was based on mistaken information within the company and tried to have the bid pulled. The company didn’t reach anyone with the school corporation until after 2 p.m. Gough’s was the lowest bid, so the school accepted it and tried to force Gough to honor the bid. Eventually the school approved the project to the second-lowest bidder and then sought to claim the bid bond Travelers Casualty and Surety has on the Gough bid. Travelers denied the claim.

Gough filed a complaint for declaratory judgment seeking that its bid be rescinded and its bid bond released. The trial court ruled in favor of Gough, granting summary judgment for Gough and Travelers and against the school.

“Based upon the record and under the circumstances presented in this case, we conclude that it is evident that there was not a meeting of the minds regarding the bid amount and thus that the School did not acquire the right to enforce Gough’s erroneous or mistaken bid,” wrote Judge Elaine Brown.

The appellate court cited Bd. Of Sch. Commr’s of City of Indianapolis v. Bender, 36 Ind. Ap. 164, 72 N.E. 154 (1904), in its decision. The judges also agreed with the trial court that Travelers should be released from its bid bond because Gough didn’t have any liability on the underlying contract.

 

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