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Travis v. Borough of Highlands

Decided: September 27, 1947.

A. RAYMOND TRAVIS, JR., TRADING AS AMERICAN DRILLING COMPANY, AND JAMES KINLIN AND GRACE RAYMOND, PROSECUTORS,
v.
BOROUGH OF HIGHLANDS, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, AND LAYNE-NEW YORK CORPORATION, INC., A BODY CORPORATE, DEFENDANTS



On rule to show cause why writ of certiorari should not be granted.

For the prosecutors, Ward Kremer.

For the defendant Borough of Highlands, Roberts, Pillsbury, Carton & Sorenson (by John Pillsbury).

For the defendant Layne-New York Corporation, Inc., Parsons, Labrecque, Canzona & Combs (by Theodore D. Parsons).

Burling

[136 NJL Page 199] BURLING, J. In this matter a rule to show cause was allowed why a writ of certiorari should not issue to review an award by the Borough of Highlands, a municipal corporation in Monmouth County, of a contract for the construction of a water plant. On April 1st, 1947, the mayor and council of the borough adopted a resolution awarding a contract to the defendant Layne-New York Corporation, Inc., on a bid of $69,200. One of the prosecutors, A. Raymond Travis, Jr., trading as the American Drilling Company, had submitted a bid of $58,347, which was $10,853 lower than the Layne-New York

bid. However, the Travis bid required the installation of an additional sedimentation tank at an additional cost of $3,000. If this cost is added to the Travis bid, it would have been $61,347.

The municipal action is attacked by the unsuccessful bidder, Travis, and by the remaining prosecutors who are citizens and taxpayers. Depositions have been taken pursuant to the terms of the rule to show cause. Oral argument was made and extensive briefs have been submitted. The letting is attacked on the following grounds:

1. That the advertisement inviting bids was not published in accordance with the statute (R.S. 40:50-1 and 4).

2. That the borough failed to secure the approval of its plans and specifications by the State Board of Health, which was a violation of the statute. (R.S. 58:11-3.)

3. That under the statute (R.S. 40:50-1) it was the duty of the governing body to award the contract to the lowest responsible bidder.

4. That the municipal governing body was guilty of bad faith in the award of the contract to the Layne-New York Corporation, Inc. The specifications were so framed as to limit the bidding to one bidder.

As far as Travis is concerned, the crux of the controversy is his persistent attempt to usurp the municipal governing body's function. The gist of his complaint is that the judgment of the elected representatives of the people was bad in adopting a closed system for purification of the water instead of the open method which includes aeration. If in the exercise of this discretion, their judgment was bad, they are answerable to those whom they govern. The evidence shows the governing body arrived at its decision after an exploration of the merits of the two systems under the guidance of their engineer. Over 600 pages of testimony were taken upon this rule. An analysis of this voluminous testimony reveals there are points in favor of each system.

In the absence of a clear showing of bad faith, the court will not substitute its judgment on an administrative matter concerning the affairs of municipal government clearly within its ...


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