Is Abuse of Discretion An Unreasonable Arbitary or Unconscionable Attitude ?
In Cleveland Constr., Inc. v. Ohio Dept. of Adm. Serv. (1997), the trial court had dismissed the appellant public contract bidder's complaint, denying its request for declaratory and injunctive relief against the appellee state agency.
The appellant had submitted the lowest bid for a contract through the Ohio Department of Administrative Services ("DAS"), but it was not selected as also being a responsible bidder.
The standard of review applied to both DAS's and the trial court's decision was abuse of discretion.
The appellate court defined "abuse of discretion" as an "unreasonable, arbitrary or unconscionable attitude." Id. at 387, 700 N.E.2d 54.
The appellate court noted that "abuse of discretion connotes more than an error of law or of judgment; it implies an unreasonable, arbitrary or unconscionable attitude." Id., citing Dayton ex rel. Scandrick v. McGee (1981) 67 Ohio St. 2d 356, 359, 21 Ohio Op. 3d 225, 423 N.E.2d 1095.
The court further defined "arbitrary" as "being 'without adequate determining principle; not governed by any fixed rules or standard.'" Cleveland Construction, 121 Ohio App. 3d 372, 387, 700 N.E.2d 54, citing Dayton ex rel. Scandrick at 359, 67 Ohio St. 2d 356, 21 Ohio Op. 3d 225, 423 N.E.2d 1095.
The court further defined "irrational" to mean "unreasonable." Cleveland Construction, 121 Ohio App. 3d at 387, 700 N.E.2d 54, citing Dayton ex rel. Scandrick at 359, 67 Ohio St. 2d 356, 21 Ohio Op. 3d 225, 423 N.E.2d 1095.
In Cleveland Construction, the court noted that a state agency such as DAS is empowered to make a qualitative determination as to which bid is both lowest and best. Id.
The court determined this power to be discretionary. Id.
Therefore, this court finds that the standard of review of the actions of defendants OSFC and Tri-Village is an abuse of discretion standard.
Since R.C. 3318.10 requires each of these defendants to separately make a decision on awarding a contract such as the general trades contract at issue, each must decision be reviewed independently.