Judge Tosses Suit Over RFP

Signature Entertainment didn’t actually have a contract to breach when the management of the St. Augustine Amphitheatre was instead handed over to St. Johns County’s Parks and Recreation Department, a Florida judge ruled Oct. 6.

The county agreed to negotiate a contract with Signature Entertainment of Point Vedra Beach (not to be confused with a company of the same name in California) after the firm responded to a request for proposals.

However, Circuit Judge Michael Traynor, in dismissing the case with prejudice, wrote that an RFP is not equal to an “invitation to bid” – and when it couldn’t reach a contract agreement, the county was free to look elsewhere.

“[The] selection of [Signature Entertainment] was simply an agreement to negotiate a contract and not the forming of a contract between the parties,” the St. Augustine Record reported Traynor as ruling.

A suit dismissed “with prejudice” cannot be refiled.

Signature CEO Bruce Lucker told the paper his attorney is examining the ruling and considering the company’s legal options. He said he was “not concerned, but surprised” the judge ruled he could not refile.

The St. Johns County Commission reportedly dismissed Signature’s management proposal in March 2007, opting instead to turn over management duties to the parks department.

“The county is gratified for the well-reasoned decision rendered by the Court in this matter,” county attorney Patrick McCormack told the Record. “Furthermore, taxpayer dollars will be saved.”

St. Johns County had projected that while Signature’s offer would likely bring in more money than a county-run operation, Signature would also likely incur more expenses.

Signature told the County Commission in April 2007 that it was owed $575,000 in “expenses and lost profits” after it was dropped from consideration, and subsequently filed suit.

“We were not treated fairly, honestly or ethically [by the County Commission],” Lucker told the Record at that time. “We were told to negotiate a contract, and we hired an attorney [who] negotiated every single segment of that contract. We spent an inordinate amount of money.”

McCormack told the paper he had tried to discourage the suit, saying to file was without legal merit. “We tried to avoid litigation here,” McCormack told the paper. “We presented to them the reasons why we felt that county had a strong position. My opinion at the time was, ‘Just say no.’ I [didn’t] think they had a claim.”