Las Vegas Sun

December 18, 2018

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Company files new lawsuit over county award of construction job

Paving

Steve Marcus

Parts of the Las Vegas Beltway fall short of freeway standards. The County Commission voted 5-2 on July 21 to award the upgrade project to Las Vegas Paving, whose bid is $4.6 million more expensive than competitor Fisher Sand and Gravel. Fisher plans to seek legal action against the county for its decision to go with the higher bid.

Beltway widening

Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. sued Clark County and Las Vegas Paving Corp. again on Tuesday, charging union-related “corruption” on the County Commission caused it to lose a disputed highway construction job.

Since April, Fisher has been in court trying to overturn an April 21 decision by the commission to award a $116.8 million job to Las Vegas Paving for work on the northern 215 Beltway between Tenaya Way and Decatur Boulevard. Fisher Sand and Gravel is a unit of Fisher Industries of Dickinson, N.D.

In its April lawsuit in Clark County District Court, Fisher said it should have been awarded the job because it was qualified to do the work and its bid was lower by some $4.6 million.

A judge sent the issue back to the County Commission for reconsideration, but the result was the same July 21, when the award to Las Vegas Paving was affirmed.

Fisher’s initial lawsuit was then dismissed.

A new lawsuit was filed by the contractor Tuesday, and the same day Las Vegas Paving and Clark County moved it to federal court because of Fisher’s claim that its rights under the U.S. Constitution were violated.

The company claims it was deprived of property — profit from the road job — without due process of law.

In its new lawsuit, Fisher says its officials had met with commissioners, including Commissioner Steve Sisolak, before the initial vote in April.

The lawsuit says Sisolak told Fisher officials that “the rumor on the street was that the unions are applying tremendous political pressure to award the project to the union contractor, Las Vegas Paving, and not the non-union contractor, Fisher.”

Sisolak told the officials “that Fisher would have to get the unions off his back,” the suit charges.

“He told (Fisher officials) after visiting their job that Fisher was a good contractor and they could do the job, but the union issues had to be resolved,” the suit says.

The lawsuit claimed that during the July 21 commission meeting, a union was allowed to make a presentation but that Fisher was not allowed to respond to concerns about its regulatory record and a Fisher official’s tax conviction.

“When Fisher asked for time to respond, and even a motion was made to allow Fisher to respond, the union commissioners (Sisolak, Tom Collins and Chris Giunchigliani), bowing to their union prejudice denied the motion,” the lawsuit charges.

“The commissioners in a rare public display of power and corruption contrived a reason to deny Fisher the project as a result of favoritism for a union contractor,” said the Fisher lawsuit.

Fisher’s new lawsuit says the decision not only cost it the job but hurt its reputation.

“Clark County’s decision is tantamount to a disbarment of Fisher from bidding on public works projects in the state of Nevada, as well as other states where Fisher submits bids on public works projects,” charges Fisher’s suit.

Other than moving the lawsuit to federal court, Las Vegas Paving and Clark County attorneys have not yet responded to its allegations.

But Sisolak, citing pollution problems at a Fisher asphalt plant in Phoenix, has previously defended the commission’s 5-2 decision July 21 that found Fisher wasn’t a responsible bidder.

“Honestly this had nothing to do with unions or non-unions; it had to do with, we want someone doing the work who isn’t going to cost us a lot of problems down the road,” Sisolak has said.

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