February 2010 - Parks & Recreation - 27

D
law
EPARTM
re view
ENT
By James Kozlowski, J.D., Ph.D.

Park Garbage Bag
Competitive Bid Contract

W

ithin the context of competitive bidding for

government contracts, an accepted bid must
substantially comply with the specifications
and requirements in the call for bids. A bid which does not
comply with specifications in the call for bids is effectively a
new offer which can not be considered within the scope of the
original call for bids. Any contract based on such a non-conforming bid would be void since it was not awarded in a manner
consistent with a fair competitive bidding process required under
applicable state law.

shutterstock

Easy Tear Bags
In the case of Interboro Packaging Corporation v. City
of Minneapolis (Minn.App. 9/15/2009), the state appeals court considered a breach-of-contract claim
arising from a competitive-bid process involving
the purchase of garbage bags for use in public
parks and recreation. In the fall of 2006, the City
of Minneapolis issued a call for bids for garbage
bags on behalf of Minneapolis Parks and Recreation
Board. Pursuant to Minn. Stat. ยง 471.345 (2006), bidders were required to reply on a bid form that included a set of precise specifications.
In a pertinent part, the call for bids specifically
required the thickness of large polyethylene trash
bags be within 5% of " 4 full mil. " (A " mil " is 1/1000
of an inch and is used to measure the thickness of a
coating.) Specifications for small size bags required
bids to be within 5% of " 2 full mil. " Further, the bid
form required bidders to supply " the manufacturer's
specifications guarantee on weight (mil) of the bags. "
Bidders were also required to submit sample
bags. According to the park board, " the only purpose of requiring a sample was to check the quality of the material. " Accordingly, " [t]he bid form did
not contain language indicating that the bid would
be awarded based on the sample or that approval
of the sample would supersede the bid form's specifications. " On the contrary, the call for bids stated
that the final product had to be " specifically manufactured due to the unique specifications. "
Interboro Packaging Corporation submitted a

	

bid and sent sample bags, inserting the language
" as per sample " on its bid form. Despite the requirements of the bid form, Interboro did not supply " the manufacturer's specifications guarantee on
weight (mil) of the bags " with its initial bid submission. Instead, Interboro attached a letter to its bid
form acknowledging that the samples did not meet
all specifications. The letter did, however, inform
the park board that " the final product would match
the sample in strength, and match the specifications
in size and color. "
Interboro's bid was the lowest. Because the price
was so low, the city's purchasing agent, Nancy Pryzmus, was concerned that Interboro's product might
not meet specifications. Pryzmus sent a memo,
along with the bid and sample, to the park board's
store keeper, Benny Rodriguez, stating, " I recommend Interboro Pack Co. as the low bid if they meet
specs. Do they meet specs? "
Rodriguez did not have a micrometer to measure the thickness of the sample. He did, however,
notice that the sample bag was thinner than normal,
but he pulled on the sample to test it and thought
it was " pretty strong. " Rodriguez claims that he
called Interboro and spoke to an unidentified
woman who informed him that Interboro's product
would meet the park board's specifications but the
bags' weight was not specifically discussed. Rodriguez subsequently informed Pryzmus that the
sample bags met specifications for thickness and
Continued on page 26

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February 2010

Parks & Recreation	 25



February 2010 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of February 2010 - Parks & Recreation

February 2010 - Parks & Recreation - 1
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