Missouri Supreme Court Allows Unsuccessful Contract Bidders to Sue Public Agencies

July 29, 2016 Advisory

A recent Missouri Supreme Court decision changes the landscape of public contracting in the state by allowing unsuccessful contract bidders to sue public agencies for denying them a fair and equal opportunity to compete. The decision in Byrne & Jones Enterprises, Inc. v. Monroe City R-! School District changes the standard for such contract bidders that historically lacked standing to directly challenge a public contract awarded through the competitive bidding process.

The project in Byrne & Jones concerned the construction of a new high school athletics stadium. The school district sought competitive bids for the construction of the project, and selected the contractor that submitted the lowest bid after factoring the base bid and certain alternates. Alternates are extra items or enhancements to the base project scope that the school district may elect to purchase along with the base scope. The unsuccessful bidder, which submitted the lowest base bid not considering alternates, directly sued the school district alleging its procedures did not allow all bidders a fair opportunity to compete.

The trial court initially dismissed the action, agreeing with the position of the school district that the unsuccessful bidder lacked standing to sue, citing long-held precedent in the state of Missouri that such competitive bidding laws exist for the benefit of the public and, therefore, only a taxpayer within the district of the public authority may sue to stop an improper award of a competitive bid. The dismissal was affirmed by the Court of Appeals, Eastern District of Missouri. On further appeal, however, the Missouri Supreme Court signaled a change in the law relating to the standing of unsuccessful bidders who challenge allegedly improper awards of contract. The Supreme Court explained that bidders "have a legally protectable interest in a fair and equal bidding process and are within the zone of interests that competitive bidding statutes seek to regulate." Therefore, the Supreme Court noted, an unsuccessful bidder does have standing to sue to challenge the award of a public contract on the basis that such bidder was denied a fair and equal opportunity to compete in the bidding. The Supreme Court refused to allow the unsuccessful bidder to sue for its bid preparation fees, noting that the statute in question does not provide for such damages.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court sustained the dismissal on other grounds, noting that the unsuccessful bidder did not seek a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order to prevent the school district from entering into the contract with the successful bidder. The project had, in fact, been completed by the time the case was before the Supreme Court. Therefore, the unsuccessful bidder’s claim to stop the award of project was moot, and the dismissal was sustained by the Supreme Court.

The decision in Byrne & Jones will have an immediate impact on public contracting in Missouri because it diverges from a long history of cases that limited the standing of unsuccessful bidders to sue to protest a bid award. It articulates a legally protectable interest of participants in public bids to enjoy a fair and equal process, and opens the door for unsuccessful bidders to directly and immediately sue to stop the award of a public bid that allegedly falls short of such standards.


News Item

Business Journal Honors Katie Doherty with Business of Pride Award

Katie Doherty

AT Academy: Co-Op and Condo Series: Pullman: Evicting the Undesirable Shareholder

Armstrong Teasdale Live Webinar

AT Academy: Co-Op and Condo Series: When a Shareholder or Unit Owner Dies

Armstrong Teasdale Live Webinar
News Item

Armstrong Teasdale Announces Newly Elected Committee Members

Armstrong Teasdale has elected five new members to its Executive Committee and two members to its Compensation Committee, effective June 1, 2023. Those elected to serve on Armstrong Teasdale’s Executive Committee, which functions as...

News Item

Armstrong Teasdale Lawyers Named in Chambers USA's 2023 Edition

Recognized in Chambers USA

Deadline Approaching for Federal Contractors to Implement Disability Self-ID Form

Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, requires federal government contractors to invite applicants and employees to self-identify as “an individual with a disability,” as defined. The Office of Federal Contract...

Planning for the Improbable: Tools to Protect Uninsured Bank Deposit Funds

Gregory Omer

U.K. Government Announces Proposed Employment Law Changes

The U.K. government has announced a number of measures intended to reform employment laws post-Brexit. These are potentially important changes that would impact the law relating to non-competition clauses, holiday time and Transfer of...

U.K. Digital Markets Competition and Consumer Bill Sets Out New Regime to Regulate Big Tech

Introduction The U.K. Government’s much-awaited Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill (DMCC Bill) published on 25 April 2023 and sets out far-reaching proposals to establish a new ex ante regulatory regime for digital markets...


AT Academy: Co-Op and Condo Series: Board Practices and Policies

Armstrong Teasdale Live Webinar
Contact Us
  • Worldwide
  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Denver, CO
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Edwardsville, IL
  • Jefferson City, MO
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • London, England
  • Miami, FL
  • New York, NY
  • Orange County, CA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Princeton, NJ
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Wilmington, DE
abstract image of world map
Boston, MA
800 Boylston St.
30th Floor
Boston, MA 02199
Google Maps
Boston, Massachusetts
Chicago, IL
100 North Riverside Plaza
Suite 1500
Chicago, IL 60606-1520
Google Maps
Chicago, Illinois
Denver, CO
4643 S. Ulster St.
Suite 800
Denver, CO 80237
Google Maps
Denver, Colorado
Dublin, Ireland
Fitzwilliam Hall, Fitzwilliam Place
Dublin 2, Ireland
Google Maps
Edwardsville, IL
115 N. Second St.
Edwardsville, IL 62025
Google Maps
Edwardsville, Illinois
Jefferson City, MO
101 E. High St.
First Floor
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Google Maps
Jefferson City, Missouri
Kansas City, MO
2345 Grand Blvd.
Suite 1500
Kansas City, MO 64108
Google Maps
Kansas City, Missouri
Las Vegas, NV
7160 Rafael Rivera Way
Suite 320
Las Vegas, NV 89113
Google Maps
Las Vegas, Nevada
London, England
Royal College of Surgeons of England
38-43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
London, WC2A 3PE
Google Maps
Miami, FL
355 Alhambra Circle
Suite 1250
Coral Gables, FL 33134
Google Maps
Photo of Miami, Florida
New York, NY
7 Times Square, 44th Floor
New York, NY 10036
Google Maps
New York City skyline
Orange County, CA
19800 MacArthur Boulevard
Suite 300
Irvine, CA 92612
Google Maps
Philadelphia, PA
2005 Market Street
29th Floor, One Commerce Square
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Google Maps
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Princeton, NJ
100 Overlook Center
Second Floor
Princeton, NJ 08540
Google Maps
Princeton, New Jersey
Salt Lake City, UT
222 South Main St.
Suite 1830
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Google Maps
Salt Lake City, Utah
St. Louis, MO
7700 Forsyth Blvd.
Suite 1800
St. Louis, MO 63105
Google Maps
St. Louis, Missouri
Washington, D.C.
1050 Connecticut Avenue NW
Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
Google Maps
Photo of Washington, D.C. with the Capitol in the foreground and Washington Monument in the background.
Wilmington, DE
1007 North Market Street
Wilmington, DE 19801
Google Maps
Wilmington, Delaware