Produce Company Sues HISD, Alleging Bid-Rigging

Who gets to provide HISD with this year's supply of turnip greens, spinach and potatoes is at the heart of a lawsuit in Harris County District Court.

Plaintiff Schoenmann Produce Company alleges that the school district engaged in bid-rigging when it awarded the year's $3.75 million-dollar produce contract to rival Third Coast Produce. Schoenmann has sued the school district and is seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent Third Coast from taking over school year 2009-10's contract on August 1.

Courthouse News picks up the story:

Schoenmann Produce claims that bids had closed for the contract to supply HISD with produce for the coming school year, when the district told Third Coast Produce to reduce its delivery price to secure the contract. Schoenmann had had the contract for years and said it was surprised when Third Coast was awarded next year's contract.

"Schoenmann, in an effort to better understand how it should bid differently next year to hopefully be the successful bidder in the future, contacted HISD and requested information on the bid, including a full copy of Third Coast's bid," according to the complaint.

Through the documents HISD provided it, Schoenmann says, it discovered that "HISD had in fact allowed Third Coast to materially modify its bid, after the bids were closed, and the sealed bids publicly opened." At the district's request, Third Coast lowered its delivery charge from $42 to $39, Schoenmann says."

"We feel confident that the bid process was not handled properly and that eventually the courts will make a determination to require a re-bid," Schoenmann's attorney Michelle Bohreer tells Hair Balls.

Paul Lamp, HISD's attorney in the case, promised Tuesday to get back with us later that day after conferring with the district's general counsel. Since that hasn't happened yet, we'll update when and if he does.


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