- Associated Press - Friday, May 6, 2016

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - A lawyer for the Mississippi State Port Authority told a judge Thursday that the board acted rightfully when it denied a $44 million contract to W.C “Cotton” Fore.

The Sun Herald reports (http://bit.ly/1Nl1a5a) that Fore took his bid protest to court, asking Harrison County Circuit Judge Larry Bourgeois to give him the $44 million contract, because his bid was $127,000 less than Necaise Bros. Construction Co.

Brant Pettis, a lawyer for the port, told Bourgeois the port was within its rights to deny Fore the contract because he failed to follow specifications by including certificates of responsibility for his subcontractors. Pettis also says electrical subcontractor C&C; Land Services, doesn’t have the required 10 years of experience.

“The port is in a position of overseeing a project that has huge management and logistical issues, Pettis said. “What they concluded was that Fore was not capable of completing the job promptly and efficiently.”

Fore’s attorney, Sam Kelly, argued Fore is qualified, having completed more than 35 port projects over four-plus decades. Kelly told the judge that Fore did not submit certificates for his contract with his bid because they are not required until the bid is awarded for subcontractors whose work represents less than 10 percent of the contract price. When Fore tried to submit the information later, Kelly said, the port refused to accept it.

Kelly said the port’s bid award was “arbitrary” and not supported by “substantial evidence.”

Bourgeois will decide whether the port followed the law in awarding the contract to Necaise. If Bourgeois rules against the port, a jury will determine what damages Fore is owed. Fore is asking for $8.9 million in lost profits.

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Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com

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