SOURCE: Linden Airport Management Corporation

October 09, 2009 17:08 ET

Linden Airport Continues Fight Against "Arbitrary and Capricious" Contract Award

In New Appeal, Asks Court to Compel Discovery in Suit Against New York Economic Development Corporation; Claims Award of Concession for Downtown Heliport to Insolvent, Politically Connected Firm Contrary to Fiscal and Safety Interests of the City

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - October 9, 2009) - Paul Dudley, CEO of Linden Airport Management Corporation, has filed a Notice of Appeal against the New York City Economic Development Corporation, et al, challenging the denial by Judge Eileen Rakower of a Petition and Motion to Compel Discovery on April 21, 2009.

The Motion for Discovery had been part of an effort to annul the July 21, 2008 decision of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the New York City Small Business Services to award a ten-year concession for operating the Downtown Manhattan Heliport to FirstFlight, Inc., despite its lack of experience, poor financial condition, and objections from multiple helicopter operators.

In filing the appeal, Robert Hantman, attorney for the plaintiffs, commented, "It is astonishing that cronyism of this kind is still thriving in New York. We are confident that the Court will, at the very least, send the petition back for trial and uphold the motion for discovery. When the facts are out, the ultimate victory will not be just for Linden Airport, but for the citizens of New York, who are entitled to the best and safest management of their heliport."

The process for awarding the concession began with the issuance of a request for proposals in November of 2007. While Title 12 of the Rules of the City of New York make clear that proposals are to be evaluated, and proposals awarded, only according to the criteria specified in the RFP, not only was FirstFlight not the most qualified firm, but their offer was not the most advantageous. Subsequently, it was learned that the rating sheets used in the award of the contract included substantial and unsupported point swings in violation of Title 12.

Furthermore, The NYCEDC ignored information that Alvin Trenk, a principal of FirstFlight, and/or his company, had been found by the Comptroller's office to have diverted monies from the Hudson River Park Trust, were subject to complaints form helicopter operators and were parties to an anti-trust lawsuit, and repeatedly created a serious hazard at the W. 30th St. heliport by failing to operate their aviation fuel farm in a proper and safe manner.

Linden Airport Management Corporation, another bidder for the concession, discovered that Robert Grotell, then a consultant to FirstFlight but formerly an employee of the NYCEDC, had been granted access to privileged information Port Authority employees who had been told that he was still with the EDC. This information allowed FirstFlight to tailor their bid in a way that no other company could. Port Authority employees were told to give this information to Grotell by Patricia Ornst, the EDC's project manager for the contract.

Having had their written complaints ignored, Linden filed a federal Complaint on April 22, 2008 asking, among other things, to enjoin the EDC from awarding the contract to FirstFlight. Federal Judge Richard Sullivan of the Southern District stayed the federal case, as the contract had not yet been registered, that the proper forum to challenge any eventual ward should be, at least in the first instance, in State Court.

On October 30, 2008, Linden, and Paul Dudley, CEO, filed a Verified Petition with the Supreme Court of the State of New York, which was amended on November 20, 2008, challenging the award. On March 29, 2009, Petitioners filed a Motion to Compel Discovery, which would have allowed access to material that would have revealed, once and for all, the extent of the cronyism involved in the award.

On April 21, 2009, Judge Eileen Rakower summarily denied the Verified Petition and treated the Motion to compel Discovery as "moot," citing neither case nor legal precedent, and despite the overwhelming evidence that

--  FirstFlight was, and is, insolvent; and unable to meet its commitment
    made in its RFP;
--  FirstFlight VP Robert Grotell had inside information from the Port
    Authority with the improper assistance of Patricia Ornst of the NYCEDC;
--  Linden had submitted a significantly higher proposal;
--  The NYCEDC Selection Committee failed to follow fair and appropriate
    procedures in the course of evaluating the proposals and awarding the
    contract.
    

The Brief is a public document and is contained within the State Supreme Court File, Index No. 114642/08, Linden Airport Management Corporation and Paul P. Dudley, Individually. v. New York City Economic Development Corporation, et al. A copy of the Brief and the other relevant documents are available upon request.

Contact Information

  • Contacts:
    Meir Kahtan
    212.575.8188
    Email Contact
    Meir Kahtan Public Relations, LLC

    Robert J. Hantman, Esq.
    212.684.3933
    Email Contact
    Hantman & Associates