Lincoln County board discusses lawsuit threat

IVANHOE — Lincoln County commissioners held a special meeting Monday morning to discuss a letter received from Quam Construction Company, Inc. notifying the board it may file a lawsuit against the county over a box culvert contract for which bids were opened at last week’s regular meeting.

The board went into closed session from 9:07 a.m. to about 9:49 a.m. to discuss the threat of a lawsuit.

After holding the closed session, the board reported it was considering the hiring of attorney Joseph J. Langel of Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A. of Minneapolis in the event that Quam Construction Inc.’s proceeded with litigation.

Peterson made the recommendation based on the experience Langel has had in public contracting and bid laws, construction, planning and zoning, leasing and condemnation.

Mr. Langel has also defended municipalities in a variety of litigation cases in state and federal court, including contract disputes, among others, his biography read.

The board voted 3 to 1 last week to award the box culvert contract to Riley Brothers Construction Inc. of Morris for their low bid of $1,464,797.50. Commissioners Joe Drietz, Corey Sik and Mic VanDeVere voted in favor of Riley Brothers Construction Inc. while Commissioner Jack Vizecky voted against it.

Quam Construction Company Inc. of Morris submitted a bid of $1,592,193.15. But the company claimed the Addendum was not “acknowledged” on the Riley Brothers Construction Inc. bid and therefore should not be considered.

Representatives from Quam Construction Company Inc. told Lincoln County Auditor Deb Vierhuf they planned to sue the county and left the meeting early, Vierhuf said.

“After review,” Vierhuf said in the minutes of Tuesday’s meeting, “Halbersma informed the Board that the addendum was acknowledged by an email sent on July 31, 2017. He read through the email for the record. Halbersma also noted that the addendum section was initialed on the form, but the addendum number was not noted. There was only one addendum.”

Halbersma also stated that the bid from Quam had a mathematical error and the amount stated at opening of $1,592,382.12 would need to be changed to $1,592.193.15, which is noted in the approved version of the minutes, Vierhuf said.

“After County Attorney Glen Peterson also reviewed the information, it was decided that the errors were not material and did not disqualify the bids,” Vierhuf said.

Halbersma’s recommendation was to award the bid to Riley Brothers Construction Inc. The board approved the bid and awarded the contract to Riley Brothers Construction Inc. for the $1,464,797.50, which was 18 percent below the engineer’s estimate of $1,793,806.50.