The three-year legal drama involving HISD trustee Larry Marshall has ended after a federal judge again ruled against a construction contractor alleging it was harmed by a bribery scheme.
U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison agreed last week to dismiss two companies being sued along with Marshall. The decision essentially closes the case, barring an appeal.
An attorney for the Gil Ramirez Group, which filed the civil lawsuit, said his client is weighing the next move.
Meanwhile, leaders of the Houston Independent School District are considering seeking reimbursement for the roughly $1.5 million HISD spent on legal fees.
Ellison’s latest order dismissed the remaining claims against two former HISD contractors, Fort Bend Mechanical and RHJ-JOC. The judge found that, even if the companies tried to bribe Marshall, the Gil Ramirez Group did not prove it was harmed by them. The companies denied the bribery allegations.
“At most,” Ellison wrote, “the evidence … shows that, if the defendants did pay bribes, they intended to advance their own economic position and that any effects on (the Gil Ramirez Group’s) contracts were incidental.”
RHJ argued in court records that the company had nothing to do with HISD choosing not to rehire the Gil Ramirez Group in 2010 to do repairs and minor construction work as a so-called job-order contractor. The Gil Ramirez Group ranked toward the bottom in HISD’s bid process, records show.
RHJ and Fort Bend Mechanical, which won the 2010 bids, no longer have their job-order contracts with HISD. They expired earlier this year, according to the district.
In addition, HISD ousted RHJ from its larger construction projects this year after claiming the company failed to finish the work in time, according to copies of the settlement agreements between the district and RHJ’s insurance company.
See here for some background. There is still a possible FBI investigation into Marshall, though of course they would not and did not comment on that. Marshall is about to depart from the board of trustees, and none of these firms are doing any work for HISD. It’s fine by me if that remains the case for a good long time.