Suburban Maintenance Construction is suing the city of Cleveland after it rejected its $5.6-million bid to upgrade the home of the National Football League's Cleveland Browns.
The firm, based in Cleveland, wants a court to void the contract, which went to the slightly higher $5.8-billion bid by Platform Cement of Mentor, and then award it to Suburban. Bryan Stucky, president of Cleveland-based Suburban, claims that none of the five bidders satisfied the city's goals for hiring firms owned by minorities or women. He says Platform Cement's paperwork showed that it had contacted just one minority-owned firm, which it planned to use as a concrete contractor.
Suburban is alleging that Platform Cement was simply using the firm to win the contract. "It appears, suspiciously, like Platform Cement used them as their concrete subcontractor, even though concrete is Platform's core competency, at an inflated value solely to pump up their MBE percentage," says Michael Fesler, general council for Suburban Maintenance.
Attempts to reach Platform Cement for comment were unsuccessful. Stucky says Suburban showed in paperwork that it planned on using $400,000 to hire minority- or women-owned businesses for the project, increasing that figure to $1 million during bidding. Stucky said Suburban showed in paperwork submitted with its bid that the firm planned on using $400,000 to hire minority- or women-owned businesses.
The lawsuit states, "The Defendant's 'Good Faith' standard is vague, ambiguous, and nebulous, and provides Defendant with no actual standard in reviewing bids." Stucky said the city still has not explained what it needed to do to show a "good faith" effort.
A city spokeswoman declined comment. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to halt the project until the matter is settled, which Platform Cement has appealed. The city has refused to stall construction, claiming the repairs must be made before a concert scheduled at the stadium in August.