Bid Protest Standing

When does a contractor have standing to sue under 42 U.S.C. section 1983 based on a bid protest?
Answer: When the contractor has an entitlement under statute, ordinance, or regulation to the award of the contract.

In Grace & Naeem Uddin, Inc. v. North Broward Hospital District, Grace sued the Hospital District for deprivation of Plaintiff’s property interest in the award of a construction project without due process of law. The Hospital District released a Formal Request for Quotation (RFQ) for the Homeless Grant Project. Grace submitted its bid of $1,909,175. Another contractor, MBR, submitted its bid of $1,951,903. Grace was determined to be the lowest bidder and MBR was second. However, the Hospital District began negotiations with MBR on the project. Grace went through the administrative process, filing a Notice of Dispute which was denied, and Notice of Appeal which was also denied.
Grace sued the Hospital District in federal court under section 1983. Grace alleged that section 255.20, Florida Statutes, requires that Hospital District award the contract to the lowest qualified and responsive bidder, and that Grace was the low bidder, was qualified, and was responsive.

The Hospital District filed a motion to dismiss. The issue was whether Grace had a property interest in a benefit. The court held that Florida law provides that a property interest may be created by a statute or ordinance that supports a claim of entitlement. In this case, the Hospital District had no discretion to select the second lowest bid. Section 255.20 provides three options: (1) reject all bids and rebid the project; (2) elect not to proceed with the project; or (3) award the contract to the lowest qualified and responsive bidder. Therefore the court denied the motion to dismiss and allowed Grace’s complaint to stand.