HUNTERDON COUNTY, NJ – A New Jersey Superior Court Judge has ruled against South State Inc., of Bridgeton in its litigation against Hunterdon County and Capital Paving and Contracting, and both the New Jersey Appellate Division and the New Jersey Supreme Court have denied South State’s request for a stay of the lower court’s decision.
Following the decision by all three courts, the Hunterdon County Freeholder Board awarded the $6,164,924.57, contract for the resurfacing of County Route 513 and County Route 628 in the Townships of Alexandria, Franklin, Lebanon, and Glen Gardner Borough, to Capital Paving and Contracting, of Lebanon, as the lowest bidder, at the Board’s July 7, 2020 meeting. Over $4 million in funding for the project will come from the state’s Transportation Trust Fund.
NJ Superior Court Judge Michael O’Neill denied South State’s initial court challenge on June 18, finding that the identification of an owner by her maiden name on the Ownership Disclosure Statement did not constitute a material, non-waivable defect necessitating rejection of the bid as non-responsive.
Judge O’Neill additionally denied South State’s request for a Stay Pending Appeal, based on his evaluation of the ‘Crowe’ factors, and concluded that South State could not satisfy all of the requirements by clear and convincing evidence, which is necessary to issue a stay pending appeal.
Judge O’Neill held that South State’s claim was not based on settled law and there was little probability of success on the merits.
South State’s request for a Stay was then denied by both the Appellate Division on June 29 and the NJ Supreme Court on June 30, with both stating there was not sufficient likelihood of success on the merits of the case to grant a stay of the existing Order.
According to Hunterdon County Administrator Kevin Davis, “Counsel has advised that the court rulings indicate South State will more than likely not prevail if the company chooses to continue the litigation. Case law (Delta Chemical v. Ocean County Utilities Authority 250 NJ Super 395 (App Div 1991)) establishes that the company may not recover money damages, even in the extremely unlikely event that the challenge succeeds.”
“State purchasing laws require the County to award the contract to the lowest, responsible bidder. Capital Paving had the lowest price and the Court has determined that their bid is responsible,” Davis said.