Judge refuses to block award of jail medical pact Delaware company sought injunction amid contract dispute

July 09, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

An Anne Arundel Circuit judge refused yesterday to block Anne Arundel County officials from awarding a contract for medical services for inmates at the county detention center.

Judge Eugene M. Lerner denied the request from Prison Health Services of New Castle, Del. -- which claims it had won, then apparently lost the contract -- for an injunction to keep the county from opening bids and awarding a new contract today.

Joseph P. Chazen, lawyer for the company, said the county illegally rescinded its $1.4 million contract with his client May 17 and that he will ask a judge later this month to order the county to award the pact to Prison Health Services. He said he requested the injunction to prevent the county from awarding a contract to a competitor.

"The farther along they are in the process, the harder it will be to stop the process," Chazen said.

But Judge Lerner said that the harm to the county outweighed any potential harm to Prison Health Services because the current pact with Correctional Medical Services is set to expire July 30, making a new contract a necessity.

The hearing on Chazen's request to restore his client's contract is scheduled July 24.

"It's really outrageous, what's happened in this case," said Chazen.

Chazen argued yesterday that county officials notified Prison Health Services in an April 25 letter that it had been awarded a one-year contract to provide health services for the 700 inmates at the jail.

The contract, which included an option to extend the pact for two additional years, was put out for competitive bids advertised Feb. 22.

But he said that the county rescinded the contract after Correctional Medical Services, a St. Louis, Mo., firm that has provided health services at the jail for the last three years, complained to county officials about the details of the agreement.

"They looked at the contract and picked apart pretty much anything they could make an argument about," Chazen said.

Stephen M. LeGendre, deputy county attorney, said the county never awarded a contract to Prison Health Services.

He said that contracts are not awarded until the county executive signs them. The letter sent to Prison Health Services saying they were low bidder was just one preliminary step in the process of awarding bids, he said.

He said the county rejected the pact because it would have required the county to pay 15 days to 30 days in advance for the medical services provided each month. The county does not pay for such services in advance, he said.

"This bidder made up its own rules, took a chance and when the fTC county found out what was going on and called a halt to the process, they took it to court," LeGendre said.

Pub Date: 7/09/96

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