Jim Black v. University of Southern California

Jim Black v. University of Southern California

The Daily Journal
Verdicts & Settlements Section
March 2, 2007

Breach of Contract


CASE/NUMBER: Jim Black v. University of Southern California / BC319865.

COURT/DATE: L.A. Superior Central / Feb. 8, 2007

JUDGE: Hon. Paul Gutman.

Plaintiff – Philip D, Dapeer (Phillip D. Dapeer, A Law Corporation, Westlake Village).

Defendant – Michael M. Amir, Hunter Eley (Doll, Amir & Eley, LLP, Los Angeles).

TECHNICAL EXPERTS: Defendant – George Miller, economics, Los Angeles.

FACTS: Plaintiff was a general contractor who participated in the University of Southern California’s competitive bidding process. In 2004, plaintiff submitted bids on multiple construction projects at the University. The aggregate amount of the bids was in the millions.

Plaintiff submitted the lowest bids with respect to two projects, one on the main campus and the other on the Health Sciences Campus. Although plaintiff had submitted the lowest bids on those two projects, the University awarded the projects to other general contractors.

Plaintiff sued the University alleging racial discrimination, breach of contract and promissory estoppel.

PLAINTIFF’S CONTENTIONS: Plaintiff contended that the University had, in fact, awarded the two projects to him and that, on reliance thereof, plaintiff had incurred substantial contractual liability. Plaintiff also asserted that he had decided to decline work on other projects because he believed the University had awarded the projects to him. Plaintiff alleged that the University refusal to award the projects to him was motivated solely by race.

DEFENDANT’S CONTENTIONS: The University of Southern California denied that it awarded the projects to plaintiff and asserted its decision to award the projects to other contractors was not race-based.

The University showed that it had disqualified plaintiff from consideration on the two projects because it had discovered that plaintiff’s business partner may have participated in an illegal kickback scheme. University also established that its decision was in no way race-based.

JURY TRIAL: Length, four days: Deliberation, two months.

SETTLEMENT DISCUSSIONS: the parties participated in a private mediation before Justice Zebrowski but they could not resolve their dispute.

RESULT: Judgment in favor of University of Southern California on all counts.

OTHER INFORMATION: Defendant offered expert testimony of a forensic accountant.