On June 23, 2022, Hunt Ortmann, led by senior partner John Darling and associate Patricia J. Wolfe, successfully obtained a writ of mandate related to a 5 year debarment at the hands of a Central Coast municipality. In November 2020, the contractor was debarred and declared a non-responsible bidder receiving only 5 days-notice. This debarment meant that the contractor could not bid on the city’s projects for a period of 5 years.
The city claimed that the resolution adopting the debarment of the contractor was necessary after a project that the contractor handled took extra time and money to complete. In its petition to set aside the debarment, the contractor argued that the municipality acted outside of its authority in passing its resolution, which was arguably approved without any supporting evidence, legal basis, or most critically due process.
The Superior Court agreed that the municipality violated the general engineering contractor’s due process rights, and ordered that the debarment be set aside. The municipality was ordered to hold a new hearing date within 180 days that complied with the due process requirements, namely having adequate notice of the charges and upcoming hearing and including the opportunity for discovery including depositions to investigate the municipality’s allegations against the contractor.