Decision to Find Contractor Not Responsible for OSU Project Upheld

Kegler Brown Construction Newsletter

O.R.C. §153.08 provides that the State will award public works projects to the "lowest, responsive and responsible" bidder. O.R.C. §9.312 sets forth the criteria that are to be considered when determining whether a bidder is "responsible" for that project, including the experience, management skills and financial resources of the bidder, but this provision has been infrequently applied by public authorities. In a recent landmark case construing these "responsibility" provisions, Judge Sheward of the Franklin County Common Pleas Court ruled that Cleveland Construction, Inc., while low bidder, was not "responsible" to perform the sizeable general trades portion of the Max Fisher Business College project for The Ohio State University, and upheld the award to the second low bidder, Danis Building Construction Company.

The Court rejected the low bidder's contentions that the public officials had abused their discretion in the investigation and evaluation process and further that there were technical defects in the "responsibility" process applied by the State.

The Court went on to uphold the constitutionality of the process and affirmatively ruled that it was fair and reasonable.

This decision upholding the "responsibility" evaluation process will likely encourage more frequent use of the statute by public owners in the future.