X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Southern Disposal Inc. had a contract with the city of Blossom to provide solid waste disposal. Blossom’s administrator, Tony Chance, sent SDI a notice that SDI’s contract would not be renewed when it expired. He sent the notice on the day he assumed to be the deadline: Jan. 18, 2001. SDI claimed the deadline date was earlier, meaning the city missed the deadline, and the contract was renewed for a five-year term. SDI sued the city. The city filed for summary judgment based on governmental immunity. The trial court granted the motion, and SDI appeals. HOLDING:Affirmed. The court first holds that governmental immunity does not bar the suit from being filed. The city did not waive immunity, as SDI asserts, by its conduct. That is, a city cannot waive its immunity from suit by accepting the benefits of a contract. On the other hand, as either a Type A or a Type B municipality, the city may “sue and be sued” and “plead and be impleaded” under Local Government 51.013 and 51.033. Even though the city is thus not immune from suit, the court then holds that there is at least a fact issue about whether the contract bound the city. The city claims it was not bound by the contract for five reasons. First, the council did not enter into competitive bidding, it says. The court, however, finds the issue of trash pickup was tabled at a regular meeting until all written contracts were in hand. This suggests that some sort of competitive bidding was pursued. Second, the city says the minutes of the city council meeting do not show the contract was ever considered or authorized by the council. The court agrees that the minutes are cryptic, but they nonetheless indicate that a proposed contract for SDI had been received. Third, the city says the contract, by its terms, is between SDI and a nonexistent “Blossom Public Works Authority,” not the city. The court finds that regardless of what entity was listed in the contract, the minutes of the city council indicated it was the city council, not a non-existent entity that was pursuing a contract. The city’s fourth argument is that the contract improperly creates a public debt without contemporaneously providing for its payment, but the city has not provided any evidence to support this assertion. Similarly, in the city’s final argument, the court finds that there is no evidence that the contract improperly provides public funds for private benefit. Even though the city did not waive immunity, and was indeed bound by the contract’s terms, the court nonetheless finds summary judgment for the city proper because the correct deadline date was Jan. 18, 2001, and because the contract says renewal must be made not less than 60 days from March 19, 2001, the last day of the initial contract’s five-year term. The court agrees that the contract is not clear as to how notice will be given. The court finds that the without a contrary contract definition or language, the way the contract is written nonetheless suggests that notice is proper if it is mailed. The court adds that if SDI had wanted to require that the notice of non-renewal had to be received by the deadline date, it could have written that option into the contract, but it didn’t. OPINION:Morriss, C.J.; Morriss, C.J., Ross and Carter, JJ.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.