Wheeling WV – Raze International of Shadyside Sues Over OVMC Demolition Contract

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WHEELING — The Shadyside company that unsuccessfully bid for the demolition contract for the former Ohio Valley Medical Center campus is suing both WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital and the City of Wheeling over the decision.

Among Raze International’s claims is that the winning bidder, New Jersey-based FR Beinke Wrecking, was ineligible to win the contract because it does not hold all the proper licenses to operate in West Virginia.

Last month, WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital announced that FR Beinke, also known as FRB, was the hospital’s choice to knock down the buildings on the former OVMC campus. WVU Medicine plans to build a new regional cancer center in its place. FRB and Raze were the two low bids. Raze actually was the lowest bid, $6.949 million to FRB’s $6.988 million.

WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital said the two bids were so close that it brought both companies back for final interviews, after which the hospital chose FRB. After the announcement, Raze officials said they would protest the decision, and would sit down with WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital for a bid review. In a lawsuit filed late Wednesday, Raze is asking for a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction or permanent injunction against either or both WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital and the city, prohibiting them from awarding the demolition contract to FRB.

It’s also asking for an order stating that the bid was improperly administered, that Raze was the lowest bidder and had the right to be awarded the bid and that Raze be awarded the contract to demolish the former OVMC.

Raze stated in its lawsuit that, among the issues with FRB’s bid, was that the company did not have a West Virginia excavator’s license, and that state code requires FRB to have one to qualify for the bid. Raze also claimed that FRB’s proposed method of demolishing the OVMC buildings is “less safe, more polluting and more of a nuisance to the surrounding area.”

“FR Beinke Wrecking Inc. proposed a crane based method of performing the project that is an objectively less safe, noisier, dirtier and less controlled method than the one proposed by (Raze),” the lawsuit stated. “The crane-based method poses substantial and comparatively greater hazards to workers, the public and private property, including fall hazards, risk of electrocution, risk of unplanned collapse, flying debris, fire and explosion than (Raze’s) proposal.”

WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital declined comment through a spokesperson. When FRB was initially announced as the winning bidder, hospital spokesman Phillip Carl said FRB was transparent about its credentials during the bidding and interviewing process. It was noted in FRB’s documents that the company had not yet obtained a West Virginia excavation license, but the company claimed that would not be an obstacle in completing the project.

Raze owner Thomas Brown, when contacted Friday, disputed that notion.

“You can’t do that,” he said. “That’s why they have the law. You have to have that license in place to bid.”

Brown also questioned the letters of recommendation that FRB included in its bid proposal. He said he was not aware such letters were going to be taken into consideration, or he would have included letters recommending Raze in its bid package.

In the lawsuit, Brown and Raze claimed that in June, both the city and WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital prepared and issued bids to demolish the former OVMC, and that all municipalities are required to follow state code in issuing and awarding bids.

Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron said the city had no comment other than the OVMC demolition project is one administered by WVU Health Systems and the city would not have involvement.

Brown said he’s hopeful that a judge will find in his favor.

“If you look at the law, it’s on our side,” he said. “I’m very confident.

“All I wanted was a fair shot in being the low bid,” Brown added

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