WGL Successfully Defends Client in Procurement Challenge

WGL lawyers successfully defended the Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority before the Second Department Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court in an appeal of a lower-court decision out of Putnam County. In 2014, the Authority had issued a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) for recyclables collection. The RFP specifically noted that although price was a factor in the Authority’s selection criteria, this was a “best value” procurement, meaning that the proposer that offered the best overall value, and not necessarily the lowest contract price, would be selected for contract award. The Authority listed several specific criteria in the RFP that would be used as the basis for comparative evaluation among the proposers, including a proposer’s knowledge and past adherence to environmental rules and regulations. The Authority received three proposals in response to the RFP and based upon evaluation of the factors listed in the RFP, the lowest proposer was not selected. The proposer subsequently commenced an Article 78 proceeding, claiming that the Authority was subject to General Municipal Law § 103, which would have required the Authority to choose the lowest responsible bidder. Both the Supreme Court and the Second Department agreed with WGL’s compelling legal argument that General Municipal Law § 103 is only applicable to political subdivisions, and that public benefit corporations, such as the Authority, are not political subdivisions. The court found that public benefit corporations are entities separate and apart from the state and that any limitations on their ability to contract must come from their enabling legislation. The court found that the Authority’s enabling legislation permitted it to contract with entities to collect solid waste and transport it to specific facilities. Significantly, the court, upon urging by WGL counsel, rejected the Petitioner’s argument that by contracting with a municipality to perform what is traditionally a local function on its behalf, that a public benefit corporation would bind itself to Section 103’s low-bid procurement requirements. The court upheld the lower court’s dismissal of the action and upheld the Authority’s contract award.

Stony Point, N.Y., 2018 N.Y. Slip Op. 02203, Second Dep’t 3-28-18 – in the New York State Bar Association’s Case Prep Plus from April 6, 2018, may be found here on page 10.