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School bus drivers can’t sue school corporation for collusion

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The lawsuit for collusion brought by 13 North Gibson School Corporation bus drivers against the school corporation as a result of bids for a transportation services contract failed on interlocutory appeal before the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Bus Corp. was awarded two contracts with the school corporation, which would cover bus transportation from 2011 to 2015.  The school corporation then scheduled “negotiation sessions” with individual drivers who wanted to renew or acquire a contract for their respective routes. Thirteen of the drivers sued the school corporation based on how the negotiation sessions were carried out – using a “reverse auction” process. The drivers were presented with a contract at a reduced price resulting from the “reverse auction” and told by the school corporation’s representative that if the contracts at the stated daily rates weren’t executed by a certain date, the school corporation would award the contract to the next lowest bidder – Bus Corp.

The drivers alleged collusion in their suit and sought compensatory damages under the Indiana Antitrust Act. The school corporation tried to have the suit dismissed, but the trial judge denied the motion.

On interlocutory appeal, the COA reversed. The drivers, as unsuccessful bidders, don’t have a private right of action against the school corporation, even if they allege collusion, wrote Chief Judge Margret Robb. The school corporation also can’t be held liable for damages under the Indiana Antitrust Act. The appellate court cited Brownsburg Cmty. Sch. Corp. v. Natare Corp., 824 N.E.2d 336 (Ind. 2005), reading that decision to mean that governmental entities can’t be liable for actions prohibited by the Indiana Antitrust Act. That Act provides a cause of action for unsuccessful bidders against other bidders.

Robb pointed out that a suit against Bus Corp. may have been a better strategy. The drivers have no remedy against the school corporation.

The judges ordered the trial court to enter an order consistent with the appellate opinion.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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