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PQA Wins Victory for Borough of Red Bank

PQA attorney Tom Hall recently won an important victory for the Borough of Red Bank and its children in the matter of General Sports Venue, L.L.C. d/b/a Astroturf v. Borough of Red Bank and Precise Construction Inc., Docket No., MON-L-2411-10. The Borough advertised bids to install a synthetic turf sports field. In the bid specifications, Red Bank reserved the right to choose the specific type of turf to be used within ten days of bid award. Precise Construction was the low bidder and specified that it would perform all preparatory and site work and use synthetic turf manufactured and installed by Astroturf. After the bid opening and at the municipality’s request, Precise agreed to substitute higher grade Field Turf brand synthetic turf at no additional cost. Astroturf sued both the Borough and Precise. Astroturf argued that because it had a subcontractor relationship with Precise, Red Bank violated the public bidding laws by improperly switching subcontractors and that the ten-day review process effectively created a sole source bid that only Field Turf could win. PQA successfully defended the Borough by proving to the Court’s satisfaction that Astroturf was not a subcontractor, but a mere supplier that had no standing to challenge the bid specifications. PQA also successfully argued that the prohibitions against “contractor shopping” and “sole source specifications” in the Local Public Contract Law were not violated under the facts of this case. Most significantly, PQA discovered emails that Astroturf’s sales manager sent to the Borough which proved that Astroturf willingly participated in Red Bank’s ten day turf review process, even going so far as to invite a contingent of Red Bank officials on a fully paid visit to Astroturf’s Georgia factory. Given this evidence, the Court ruled that Astroturf was prohibited from challenging the legality of the ten day turf review process when it unsuccessfully participated in that very same process, instead of challenging that process prior to the receipt of bids as required by the public bidding laws.

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