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Justices find school corporation circumvented public bidding laws

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The southern Indiana school corporation that facilitated renovations of its warehouse through an agreement with a local public school endowment organization violated Indiana Public Bidding Laws, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday. The justices rejected taxpayers’ claims that the process also constituted a violation of the Antitrust Law.

The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. in August 2010 approached the EVSC Foundation regarding renovations of a warehouse into the school corporation’s administrative offices. The school corporation would convey the building to the foundation, which would then contract with Industrial Contractors Inc. for building renovations. The school corporation selected this arrangement because the foundation wasn’t subject to public bidding laws, so renovation could occur more quickly.

The foundation would then sell the building back to the school corporation, accepting installment payments for the “sale” price in the exact amount and on the exact schedule that payments under ICI’s construction contract were due. The foundation would make those payments to ICI.

A group of taxpayers consisting of area contracting businesses who paid taxes in the school district filed this lawsuit, seeking declaratory judgment and injunctive relief alleging violations of the public bidding statutes and the Antitrust Act.

The trial court ruled in favor of the defendants, noting they circumvented the public bidding statutes, but no violation had occurred. The Court of Appeals reversed and ordered the trial court to consider the antitrust issues since it did not do so after finding no public bidding violation.

The Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals decision in Alva Electric, Inc., Arc Construction Co., Inc., Danco Construction, Inc., Deig Bros. Lumber & Construction Co., Inc., et al. v. Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation and EVSC Foundation, Inc., 82S01-1307-PL-473.  

“We want to make clear that the holding in this case should not be construed to mean that all (or even most) contracts entered into by private entitles like Foundation ‘for the ultimate benefit of and in cooperation with a political subdivision like School Corporation’ necessary run afoul of the Public Work Statute,” Justice Robert Rucker wrote.

It appears the foundation was acting on behalf of the school corporation, although the justices declined to discuss the elements of an agency relationship since the record in the case is not developed as to this matter.

Instead of remanding the antitrust issue to the trial court, the justices agreed with the taxpayers that this issue could be decided on the record.

The taxpayers argued their injuries consist of a supposedly higher price for the building renovation than would have resulted if the project had been publicly bid and the loss of a contract which would have ultimately been awarded to one of them. But they designated no evidence to support a conclusion that these injuries in fact occurred, Rucker wrote.

“We agree with Taxpayers it is hornbook antitrust law that under ‘agreement eliminating competitive bidding … a seller will be able to charge a higher price than under conditions of perfect competition,’” Rucker continued. “But Taxpayers provided no evidence that is what happened here. And without evidence of injury, Taxpayers are not entitled to relief.”

The justices remanded with instructions for entry of summary judgment in favor of the taxpayers on the public bidding violation issue as well as a declaration that the transactions effected by the school corporation violated Indiana’s Public Work Statute.
 

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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