Florida Appeals Court Denies Company’s Protest of Miami’s Contract Bidding Process
On February 13th, 2019, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the City of Miami and a private company in a dispute over the bidding process for a local government redevelopment contract. This decision paves the way to allow for Miami’s $80 million Virginia Key development project to move forward.
In this case of Biscayne Marine Partners LLC vs. City of Miami, Florida and Virginia Key, LLC, the Third District Appeals Court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim that Miami city officials used an unfair bidding process for the development contract. In this article, our Miami business litigation attorneys explain the stakes of the case and provide an analysis of the decision and the reasoning used by the appeals court.
The Facts: Dispute Over the Legitimacy of Miami’s Bidding Process
The plaintiff in this case is a company called Biscayne Marine Partners. This firm has been the operator of the marina at Virginia Key, which is located in Miami, Florida. In 2017, the City of Miami called for open bids to redevelop a 26-acre plot of land at Virginia Key. Three companies submitted official bids to the city, including Biscayne Marine Partners. The contract at stake was significant: it was a 75-year commercial agreement with the City of Miami, allowing for the development and operation of several adjacent properties.
Eventually, the government contract for the project was awarded to a company called VKLLC. Biscayne Marine Partners filed an official protest of the decision, arguing that there were serious problems in the bidding process. On several different grounds, they argued that VKLLC bid was flawed and the process was unfair. Upon review, a lower court dismissed the claim, thereby allowing Miami to move forward with its redevelopment. Soon after, Biscayne Marine Partners filed an appeal.
The Decision: Government Agencies Have Broad Discretion
In reviewing the allegations raised in this case, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal upheld Miami’s right to award the contract to VKLLC. The court noted that government agencies — such as the Miami commission that initially awarded this contract — have broad discretion to make these types of decisions. Indeed, this decision can only be reviewed on a limited basis. Florida courts will not assess the wisdom of such a decision. Instead, courts will only step in and intervene in an agency’s bidding process when evidence can be presented the decision was made based on illegal grounds, fraudulent grounds, or involved other blatant misconduct. Absent compelling evidence that a state or local agency’s bidding process was fundamentally corrupt, a Florida court is unlikely to intervene.
Get Help From a Miami Business Litigation Attorney Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our skilled Florida business law attorneys have extensive experience representing companies in all types of commercial litigation, including contract disputes. To set up a confidential consultation with a top-rated business lawyer, please contact us today. We have offices in Miami and West Palm Beach and we represent clients all around the region.