Civil action. In lieu of prerogative writ.
In these consolidated cases plaintiffs challenge the validity of the action of defendant board of trustees in awarding to defendant Olenik Plumbing and Heating Co. the contract for certain plumbing work on four new buildings to be constructed by the Newark College of Engineering. Plaintiff Albert F. Ruehl Co. was an unsuccessful bidder on the job. Plaintiff Mabel Blumenschine is a resident, property owner and taxpayer of the City of Newark.
Newark College of Engineering is a school for industrial education authorized under R.S. 18:15-17 et seq. It is administered by defendant board of trustees, who constitute a body corporate under the provisions of R.S. 18:15-22. The provisions of N.J.S.A. 18:11-9.1 et seq. , apply to it.
On March 4, 1964 defendant board of trustees advertised for bids for the plumbing work on the four new buildings in
question, to be constructed on certain lands now under redevelopment. The bids were to be received up to 2 P.M. on April 22, 1964. The advertisement provided, among other things that:
"Each contractor, before being able to submit a bid, must have been qualified for the type and amount of work involved by the New Jersey State Department of Education."
In the advertisement the owner reserved the unrestricted right to reject any and all bids.
The instructions to bidders contained the following:
" NOTE is here made to the requirement that each Bidder shall attach to his proposal a certified financial statement. See detailed requirement in 'Form of Bid.'"
" RIGHT TO ACCEPT OR REJECT PROPOSALS:
The Owner may consider informal any bid or bids not prepared and submitted in accordance with the provisions hereof.
The Owner reserves the unrestricted right to reject any or all bids; to waive any informalities or irregularities in the bids received; and to accept any bid which is deemed most favorable. The Owner also reserves the right to reject any bid, if, in his opinion, the Bidder is not considered financially or technically able to carry out the Contract as intended, or for any other reason which, in the Owner's judgment is not for the best interests of the Newark College of Engineering. See 'Competency of Bidders.'"
The form of bid contained the following:
" Special Note: Each contractor is hereby required to attach to his bid, a balance sheet or statement of financial condition as of December 31st of the year preceding the date of this bid. In addition thereto, it is required that such balance sheet or statement of financial condition be certified, without qualification by an independent qualified accountant or auditor."
On April 14, 1964 the time to receive bids was extended to May 1, 1964. On that day plaintiff Ruehl submitted the low bid of $381,000 for the plumbing work and defendant Olenik
submitted the next lowest bid of $400,890. In its written bid plaintiff Ruehl, immediately after the "special note" referred to above, had ...