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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Law Warehouse suit continues over state contract

CONCORD – The legal battle between Law Warehouses and the state Liquor Commission will continue, but it won’t result in an immediate stop to the lucrative contract awarded to an out of state firm.

Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Diane Nicolosi on Friday denied a request by Law Warehouses to overturn the liquor commission’s decision to award a $200 million, 20-year warehousing contract to Exel Inc. of Ohio. ...

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CONCORD – The legal battle between Law Warehouses and the state Liquor Commission will continue, but it won’t result in an immediate stop to the lucrative contract awarded to an out of state firm.

Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Diane Nicolosi on Friday denied a request by Law Warehouses to overturn the liquor commission’s decision to award a $200 million, 20-year warehousing contract to Exel Inc. of Ohio.

Law Warehouses of Nashua has warehoused the state’s liquor and spirits for more than two decades, and contends that its lost the contract only because state liquor commissioners disliked company president Brian Law.

In her 50-page ruling, Nicolosi wrote that granting Law Warehouses’ request for a preliminary injunction – taking immediate decision to stop the contract from going into effect, before any trial – would set a bad precedent.

“Granting an injunction at this point may actually undermine future competition bidding, both in regards to this project and in general. Potential bidders must have some assurance that courts in this state will not lightly overturn partially performed contracts ... absent truly compelling evidence of favoritism and/or material deviations from bidding requirements,” she wrote.

“Having found that Law is unlikely to succeed in proving either ... (the court) weighs in favor of denying the prelminary injunction.”

In a separate ruling, she rejected a proposal by the Liquor Commission to combine the Law Warehouse suit over the contract with a suit by XTL-NH.

XTL, a subsidiary of
Philadelphia-based liquor warehousing firm XTL Inc., was the second-highest bidder and Law Warehouses was the third highest bidder.

Both claim the commission tilted what is supposed to be a level playing field in Exel’s favor, making it impossible for them to compete. Law Warehouses’ pleadings and much of its attorney’s focus during a series of depositions with current and former Liquor Commission employees, focused on the Liquor Commission Chairman Joseph Mollica and Commissioner Michael Milligan’s personal feelings about Brian Law.

They say the commissioners, and some employees, simply don’t like him, and thought he had a sense of entitlement and didn’t deserve to get the contract.

XTL’s claims focus more heavily on the bidding process and waivers the commission granted Exel while it was developing its answer to the state’s request-for-proposal.

Law’s current contract expires in October.

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or dbrooks@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Brooks on Twitter (@GraniteGeek).