Case Update: Byron Talbot Contractor v. Lafourche Parish School Board (November 2021)

Authors: Michael Levatino

A Louisiana Court of Appeal recently reiterated the limited scope of bidding requirements a public entity can impose under Louisiana Public Bid Law. In Byron E. Talbot Contractor, Inc. v. Lafourche Parish School Bd., 2021-0181 (La. App. 1 Cir. 11/1/21), 2021 WL 5355643, the First Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that requiring the architect’s name on the bid submission was in violation of Louisiana Public Bid Law extending the Louisiana Supreme Court’s analysis of La. R.S. 38:2212(B)(2) in Leblanc Marine v. Div. of Admin., 2019-0053 (La. 10/22/19), 286 So.3d 391 and Durr Heavy Construction v. City of New Orleans, 2016-609 (La. 4/15/16), 189 So.3d 384.

In Byron, the public entity advertised for bids on a public works project. The bid advertisement required five items to be placed on the bidding envelope: (1) Job name and owner; (2) Architect; (3) Date; (4) Contractor’s name, address, and license number; and (5) Architect’s project number. But the bidding instructions required only four items: (1) Owner; (2) Project; (3) Contractor’s license; and (4) Architect’s Project Number.

Four contractors bid on the project, and each bidder submitted the bid on the electronic bid form. The lowest responsive bidder, LA Contracting, identified only the four items listed in the bidding instructions while the other three bidders identified five items listed in the bid advertisement. The second lowest bidder filed suit seeking a preliminary injunction, declaratory judgment, and mandatory injunction stating that LA Contracting’s bid was non-responsive for failing to identify the architect as required by the bid advertisement. LA Contracting intervened. The trial court ruled in favor of LA Contracting and denied the preliminary injunction, declaratory judgment, and mandatory injunction. The second lowest bidder appealed the trial court’s decision.

On appeal, the First Circuit noted that Public Bid Law mandates that a public entity’s bid documents may only require bidders to submit certain information in response to a bid. The Court citing La. R.S. 38:2212(B)(2) recognized that the statute provides an exclusive list of 12 items that a public entity can place in the bidding documents. Additionally, the Court noted that the “Supreme Court has further held that a public entity’s bid advertisement may not impose more restrictive requirements than those set forth in the Public Bid Law.” 

The Court reasoned that since the public entity could only require the twelve items listed in La. R.S. 38:2212(B)(2) in the bid documents which does not include the identification of the architect, the public entity’s requirement to list the architect violated Public Bid Law. Therefore, the Court Found LA Contracting’s bid was responsive because to hold otherwise would be ignoring the requirements set forth in La. R.S. 38:2212(B)(2).

As shown by the First Circuit’s analysis, the Court has interpreted La. R.S. 38:2212(B)(2) narrowly which precludes a public entity from adding bidding requirements not found in the statute. Byron E. Talbot Contactor and its progeny provide a fair warning to public entities attempting to impose more restrictive bidding requirements than those required by La. R.S. 38:2212(B)(2).