Paschen and Chicago Water Reclamation District Get Deferential Standard Of Review In Walsh’s Try To Prevent Bid Award

Walsh Construction Company and II In One Contractors formed a joint venture to bid on a contract being offered by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. The Walsh joint venture bid on the contract, but did not sign the required D-3 sheet. Although Walsh’s bid was about $10 million less than any other bid, the contract was awarded to a joint venture led by F. H. Paschen.

Walsh sued, and asked for a preliminary injunction to prevent the contract award to Paschen. After a two-day trial, the trial court denied Walsh’s request for an injunction and granted Pashen’s and the Water District’s request for a directed finding.

Walsh appealed, and the parties argued about the proper standard of review. Walsh asserted the trial court’s decision entailed legal issues only, so the proper review standard was de novo, which gives the trial court decision no deference. Paschen and Water District argued for “a manifest weight of the evidence” standard, noting that the [trial] court indeed considered the weight of the testimony and evidence presented in making its decision and did not, as Walsh insists, simply deny the request for preliminary injunction as a matter of law.”

The First District Illinois Appellate Court agreed with Paschen and the Water District. The appellate court acknowledged that a de novo standard would apply had the trial court ruled that the party asking for the injunction failed to offer at “least some evidence on the essential elements of its cause of action.”

But in this case, “contrary to its [Walsh’s] assertions, it is evident that the court made credibility findings and, in particular, weighed the quality of the evidence … [The trial court] made this decision [granting the directed finding for Paschen and the Water District] as a fact finder after considering the totality and quality of the evidence presented and drawing reasonable inferences therefrom, thus meriting deferential [manifest weight of the evidence] review.”

Get the whole case, Walsh/II In One Joint Venture III v. Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, No. 1-08-3167 (3/20/09), by clicking here.