Court of Appeals dismisses Puerto Rico Housing contract suspension order
SAN JUAN – The order to stop the suspension of Adjusters International’s contract to manage of the “Tu Hogar Renace” project amid irregularities found by the Bid Review Board was revoked Thursday by the Court of Appeals.
In an eight-page resolution, the court says it cannot decide on the merits of the case, nor issue a stop order it gave last week because it lacks jurisdiction at the moment.
“From a mere reading of the Final Resolution…we realized it does not contain the due process warnings ordered by Section 3.14 of the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act (LPAU). The Review Board did not warn the parties of their right to request an appeal for judicial review before this Court, as well as the corresponding terms to urge it,” the document reads.
The court maintains it lacks jurisdiction to solve the dispute or issue an order to stop the suspension of Adjusters’ contract as requested. The judges ordered the review board to again notify the final resolution in compliance with the law.
AECOM, which challenged Adjusters’ contract and is expected to take over if the court ratifies the determination of the review board, indicated it is ready to discuss with the Housing Department “the next steps to initiate a transition process for the project management of the Tu Hogar Renace program.”
“Per yesterday’s final judgment by the Puerto Rico Court of Appeals, the appeal by Adjusters International was dismissed and the stay order was vacated. All filings with the court were ordered stricken from the record. Therefore, the decision by the DOH [Housing Department] Review Board finding the contract null and void stands and the order of cancellation continues in full force and effect as it stood last week, when it was initially made public,” Vahid Ownjazayeri, executive vice president of AECOM said in press release.
Adjusters’ legal representative–Eric Pérez Ochoa, of Adsuar Muñiz Goyco Seda & Pérez-Ochoa PSC–expressed satisfaction with the decision in a written statement, saying they believe it implies an affirmation of their understanding that the review board was ineffective and legally deficient in its notification of the resolution to the parties. “As a result, they resubmitted the case to the Bid Review Board with the requirement that they issue a resolution that complies with the law, and we will commit to them during that process,” Pérez Ochoa said.
“While that happens, Adjusters International’s main priority is to continue helping Puerto Ricans return to their homes through the Tu Hogar Renace program. Adjusters International has added thousands of new applicants to the program during the past week, has significantly increased the number of homes for construction and will continue to expand this vital program,” he said.
Earlier Thursday, the Court of Appeals had dismissed a motion by AECOM to reconsider the decision issued on Feb. 15 in which the suspension of Adjusters’s contract was halted while the dispute was being addressed. That same resolution is the one revoked hours later.
Caribbean Business requested comment from the Housing Department.