Verdict reached in marina dispute

ST. IGNACE, Mich. – One of the longest trials in the history of Mackinac County, Mich., has ended with a ruling in favor of an area contractor who sued after losing out on a bid on the St. Ignace Marina project, the Cheboygan Daily Tribune reported in a story this morning.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, United Design Associates and Ryba Marine won the 2004 Marina of the Year Award for the project, given through a vote from 50 state representatives of the States Organization for Boating Access, according to the newspaper.

Sault Ste. Marie contractor John Lechner was awarded $300,000 in damages after 28 days of testimony, when the jury ruled against the defendants – United Design Associates, Inc. of Cheboygan, owner James Muschell and Engineer John Schlack, the Daily Tribune reported.

The newspaper said Lechner was the low bidder in the bid for the St. Ignace Marina project and had the backing of two different bonding companies. But he was shut out when the actual work began as the project was awarded to Ryba Marine Construction Co. of Cheboygan, “as a direct result of the actions of United Design Associates. Inc. to wrongfully have Lechner’s bid disqualified, a jury ruled,” the newspaper wrote.

United Design Associates maintained in the trial that Lechner was disqualified as a bidder because his firm did not meet the specifications for the marina project.

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