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Premier Electrical Constr. v. Bd. of Educ.

OPINION FILED APRIL 10, 1979.

PREMIER ELECTRICAL CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. NATHAN M. COHEN, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE DOWNING DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is an appeal from an order of the circuit court of Cook County denying damages to Premier Electrical Construction Company in connection with a bid it submitted to perform electrical work at a school owned and operated by the Board of Education of the City of Chicago.

On appeal Premier Electrical Construction Company (hereinafter Premier) contends that a contract existed between itself and the Board of Education; that the Board of Education breached the contract; and that as a result of the breach, it is entitled to recover damages.

The record indicates the following sequence of events occurred. The Board of Education of the City of Chicago (hereinafter the Board) solicited bids for electrical work to be done at Onahan Elementary School in Chicago. In accordance with certain Board rules and regulations, each bidder was required to submit an "Affirmative Action Pre-Award Survey" (hereinafter survey). The survey consisted of six pages requesting information about the bidder's employment practices.

Stanley C. Wielgos, vice-president of Premier, testified that due to a prior experience in connection with another bid where Premier's bid was returned for failure to include a survey, company procedures were instituted whereby two employees would witness that all necessary documents were included in the bid envelope. Wielgos stated that on June 5, 1975, he personally put a bid proposal, bid bond, and a complete survey in the bid envelope which was deposited with the Board by one of the two employees witnessing his actions.

On June 6, 1975, in accordance with statutory procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 122, par. 10-20.21), all bids submitted on the Onahan project were read aloud and recorded. Joseph Brenner, administrative assistant to the director of the bureau of architecture of the Board, testified that it was his job to determine the low bidder and whether the necessary documents were submitted with the bid. He stated that he received Premier's bid along with its survey but did not actually count the number of pages included in the survey. He explained that after the low bid is determined, it is sent to the technical review board which checks to see whether specifications have been met and the bid is within the budget. If the bid is approved by the technical review board, Brenner then forwards the survey to Louis J. Barnes, director of the equal employment opportunity program, for approval.

Premier received the following unsigned form letter dated June 11, 1975:

"Gentlemen:

Bids for the Electrical contract on the Onahan Elementary School were opened by the Board of Education on June 6, 1975.

Pending final approval by the Board of Education that your firm is in compliance with all applicable board policies and programs, it is anticipated that this contract will be awarded to you via Board Report at the June 25, 1975 Board Meeting."

Barnes testified to receiving Premier's survey on June 9, 1975. He noticed that the first four pages of the document were missing. He received only pages five and six plus a statement regarding Premier's affirmative action policy. He sent a memo to the bureau of architecture indicating that Premier's program was not approved due to its failure to include a work force inventory which was page three of the survey.

Barnes explained that in such a situation, the office of origin, in this case the bureau of architecture, decides whether to have the affirmative action program of the next lowest bidder evaluated, or to discard all bids and conduct a rebid, or to grant a waiver of the affirmative action program requirements. The office of origin notifies the bidder of the disapproval. A disqualified bidder can seek review by writing to the general superintendent or the office of origin. According to Barnes, a bidder is usually told of this procedure verbally, and there is no guarantee that a review will be given.

On June 16, 1975, Premier was notified that its survey was not approved because a work force inventory was not included. Wielgos sent a letter dated June 17, 1975, to the deputy superintendent of the Board, Manford Byrd, Jr., stating that Premier had submitted the inventory with its bid, enclosed a copy of its survey, and requested that it be reviewed. After receiving this letter, Byrd testified that he asked Barnes for comments.

On July 9, 1975, Barnes sent Byrd a written response stating that he could not answer Premier's letter because when he received its survey the first four pages were missing, and he had no way of knowing if Premier's ...


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