International Telecommunications Systems v. State

Decision Date26 May 1978
Citation359 So.2d 364
PartiesINTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS, a corporation, v. STATE of Alabama et al. SC 2760.
CourtAlabama Supreme Court

Richard H. Gill, Montgomery, for appellant.

William J. Baxley, Atty. Gen. and Sarah M. Greenhaw, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee, Howard C. White, Purchasing Agent for the State of Ala.

Henry C. Barnett, Jr., Montgomery, for appellee, General Elec. Corp.

BEATTY, Justice.

This is an appeal by the plaintiff, International Telecommunications, Inc. (ITS), from the denial of injunctive relief which it sought against the State of Alabama, Howard White, and General Electric Corporation (GE) for an alleged violation of Code of Ala., 1975, § 41-16-20 through 32 (the Competitive Bid Law). We affirm.

The facts concern an invitation to bid on the purchase by the State of replacement radio crystals to be installed in GE radios which already were placed in State trooper automobiles. THe invitations to bid were published on December 17, 1975. These invitations specified GE parts of different serial numbers "or equal." Both GE and ITS submitted bids, however the bid of ITS used a crystal manufactured by Anderson Electronics, Inc. Because an invitation to bid is understood as a "Request for Proposal," the requisitioning agency (in this case the Department of Public Safety (DPS)) advises the Purchasing Agency whether or not the bid is acceptable. The specifications for this bid were written by Thomas Garrett, the chief radio engineer for DPS. When the bids were opened on February 13, 1976 ITS was represented by its general manager, D. C. Beatty, Jr. In a conversation with Garrett at that time, Beatty agreed to supply samples of the Anderson crystals for evaluation. They had conversed several months before the bid opening on the subject of the crystal purchase to be made, and Beatty had told Garrett that he would select a manufacturer of crystals that would equal or exceed all the specifications, including warranty.

Garrett wrote to Beatty on March 19, 1976 stating that he had received neither the crystal samples nor a warranty. In this letter Garrett specifically referred to the lifetime warranty on GE crystals. Beatty replied by letter on March 28, 1976 that the Anderson crystals had been shipped. Garrett never received them, however.

Then on June 2, 1976 Beatty wrote to Savoy Electronics, Inc., a Fort Lauderdale, Florida firm, requesting that their appropriate samples, together with a warranty statement, be sent to the State purchasing agent, Mr. White, or to Mr. Grady Smith in the purchasing office. In this letter Beatty specifically noted that the warranty was to be equal to the normal GE warranty. But when a set of Savoy crystals was received by the State purchasing office in early June, 1976, the container in which these were shipped contained a printed notice stating that Savoy crystals were warranted for one year. Garrett proceeded to evaluate the GE and Savoy crystals. Under environmental conditions which were the same for both he sprayed each with a coolant, then compared their "drift" from their set frequencies. The Savoy crystal drifted more than the GE. Garrett also contacted engineers in and out of Alabama by telephone, attempting to learn more about the Savoy crystals, but in his inquiries he found only one, Harold Champion, a radio engineer with DPS.

Champion had experience using both types of crystals in military communications and in amateur radios. His experience with Savoy crystals had been unsatisfactory while that with GE crystals had been satisfactory. He affirmed that he had discussed the Savoy crystals with Garrett in June of 1976.

The ITS bid was not accepted, but a new bid was asked. Again ITS was the lowest bidder at the opening on August 12, 1976, on this occasion offering not the Anderson crystals as before but the Savoy crystals. On August 16, 1976 ITS was notified that its bid would not be accepted. GE was found to be the lowest responsible bidder. On August 19, 1976 this suit was filed. The State of Alabama was dismissed by the trial court, leaving Howard White and GE as defendants.

In substance, the plaintiff's suit claimed that the Savoy crystals were "equal" to the GE crystals and therefore as low bidder it should have been awarded the contract which, through the arbitrariness of the purchasing officials, was awarded to GE. In denying injunctive relief, the trial court held that the legal standards set out in White v. McDonald Ford Tractor Company, 287 Ala. 77, 248 So.2d 121 (1971), were controlling. It found:

(T)hat the evidence establishes that no State official acted arbitrarily or capriciously or with abuse of discretion in determining that Defendant, General Electric Corporation was the lowest responsible bidder. Further, the Court finds that the exercise of discretion by State officials in reaching their decision was not the result of a misconception of the law or ignorance through lack of inquiry or any violation of the law or improper influence. The Court finds that these officials acted in good faith and that each testified truthfully.

Following this order the purchase from GE took place, no stay having been obtained pending appeal. The plaintiff's position on this appeal, however, is that it would be entitled to its profit from the sale even though injunctive relief has been rendered moot. That question, however, is controlled by whether or not the trial court was correct in denying relief to ITS in the first instance.

The Competitive Bid Law does not require that the lowest bid be accepted, and the plaintiff concedes this. What that statute requires is that:

(a) When purchases are required to be made through competitive bidding, award shall be made to the lowest responsible bidder taking into consideration the qualities of the commodities proposed to be supplied, their conformity with specifications, the purposes for which required, the terms of delivery, transportation charges and the dates of delivery; provided, that the awarding authority may at any time within five days after the bids are opened negotiate and award the contract to anyone, provided he secures a price at least five percent under the low acceptable bid. The award of such a negotiated contract shall be subject to approval by the director of finance and the governor. The awarding authority or requisitioning agency shall have the right to reject any bid if the price is deemed excessive or quality of product inferior.

The requirements thereby placed upon purchasing authorities were fully explored in White v. McDonald Ford Tractor Company, 287 Ala. 77, 248 So.2d 121 (1971). In response to an invitation to bid upon the purchase of tractors with sleeve-type engines and other...

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  • Clark Const. Co., Inc. v. Pena
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Alabama
    • 18 Abril 1996
    ...Competitive Bid Law does not require that the lowest bid be accepted....'" Id. at 1044 (quoting International Telecommunications Sys. v. State of Alabama, 359 So.2d 364, 366 (Ala.1978)). Consequently, because Alabama law does not create an entitlement to the benefits at issue, the court fin......
  • Hodges v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 30 Marzo 2001
    ...and practical knowledge may qualify one to make technical judgments as readily as formal education." International Telecomm. Sys. v. State, 359 So.2d 364, 368 (Ala.1978). "An individual may qualify as an expert by study, practice or observation." Gullatt v. State, 409 So.2d 466, 472 (Ala.Cr......
  • Jackson v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 30 Septiembre 1993
    ...practical knowledge may qualify one to make technical judgments as readily as formal education.' International Telecommunications Systems v. State of Alabama, 359 So.2d 364, 368 (Ala.1978)." Bowden v. State, [Ms. 91-838, August 18, 1992] 610 So.2d 1256 (Ala.Cr.App.1992). Thus, a lay witness......
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    ...gain an expertise through practical experience as well as through formal training or education. See, e.g., International Telecommunications Sys. v. State, 359 So.2d 364 (Ala.1978) (recognizing that experience and practical knowledge, as fully as formal education, qualify one to make technic......
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