By: Brian S. Case, Esq.

In a recent court case in Northern California, Case, Ibrahim & Clauss, LLP, successfully petitioned a superior court to issue a Writ of Mandate against a Public Owner who wrongfully rejected a low bidder’s bid and instead awarded the public works project to the second low bidder. The Owner questioned the low bidder’s license qualifications and wrongfully concluded the bidder was not properly licensed and therefore could not be awarded the contract. In obtaining the Writ of Mandamus against the public owner, a thorough background analysis of the facts and surrounding legal and regulatory authorities was performed which, according to the judge made a difference in the successful outcome of this Bid Protest case. Critical to the outcome was: * An early “Freedom of Information Act” (“FOIA”) request (known in California as the Access to Public Records Act) is vital to obtaining all relevant pre-litigation records typically only in the hands of the governing body. According to the Partner in charge of the case, Brian S. Case: “…getting an early jump on the disputed issues through such pre-litigation tactics goes a long way to putting the rejected contractor on an even playing field with the public entity.” * Where the case involves regulatory issues such as licensing, the Contractors State License Board has regular channels for getting letter opinions of the applicability of the CSLB license regulations to certain contractor actions. According to the Partner in charge of the case, Brian S. Case: “In this case, one of the ways we were able to prove that the rejected contractor was in fact properly licensed was through obtaining a CSLB licencing deputies review of the applicable regulations compared to the contract specifications. This was quite helpful and is an often overlooked tool in these types of cases.”


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