Saturday, July 12, 2014

Judge tosses Emanuel’s request to regain bus contract

Dallas board’s decision to use another company may force bus line out of business, lawyer says.

June 28. 2013 1:46AM

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WILKES-BARRE — A ruling by a Luzerne County judge Thursday might put 25 people out of a job, an attorney representing a local bus company said.

Judge Michael Vough ruled the Emanuel Bus Line did not present enough proof it would suffer irreparable harm after the Dallas School District voted to award a contract to another bus company.

“There is a strong possibility my client will shut down and be put out of business,” said attorney Jonathan Comitz, who represents the Emanuel Bus Line. “A family-owned business now has to shut down, and 25 people will lose their jobs. It’s disappointing that the school district chose to go down this path.”

Emanuel Bus Line filed a preliminary injunction two weeks ago after the school board sought competitive bids for bus service. In the filing, Emanuel sought to have a contract awarded to them.

The board received one from Emanuel and another from G. Davis, Inc. of Pike County, which offered a contract at $83,000 less than Emanuel. The public complained, and the board agreed to let both sides offer new proposals.

Only Emanuel did, and district Business Manager Grant Palfey determined G. Davis was still about $7,600 lower. The board voted a second time to hire G. Davis.

On June 20, Jeff Emanuel testified before Vough he would have to close his business if he lost the contract. Emanuel said in court he never sought work with other districts because he didn’t want to put some other bus company out of work.

“I’ll advise my client of all the options they have available to them,” Comitz said. “We’re not ruling out taking further steps to protect our client’s interest.”

Those steps, Comitz said, could include an appeal or a civil action requesting monetary damages.

“I think the judge came to the right decision,” attorney Howard Levinson said, who represented the district in the injunction. “Our evidence showed clearly that the school board carefully considered G. Davis Inc and Emanuel … it was a several-month process. (The school district) made a judgment in good faith that was in the best interest of the school district, taxpayers and ultimately the students.”

Levinson said G. Davis Inc. will begin performing duties on Monday.

In Vough’s ruling, he outlined the several elements that attorneys must meet when filing a preliminary injunction.

“There was no evidence presented to establish that the injunction requested by (Emanuel) is necessary to prevent immediate and irreparable harm that cannot be adequately compensated by damages,” Vough wrote. “Although the likelihood of success is subject to debate.”

Vough said Emanuel has options to recoup any loss with money damages.

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