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Contractors take Cape case to Supreme Court

Sean Ryan
sean.ryan@dailyreporter.com

James Cape & Sons Co.’s attempt to sue Vinton Construction Co. and Streu Construction Co. over past bid-rigging schemes is headed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Jim Maples, president of Manitowoc-based Vinton, said the lawsuit is unrelated to the federal charges of his company receiving bidding information from a Cape executive. Maples and executives from Streu, formerly of Holmen but no longer in business, pleaded guilty to those charges in 2005.

“The two cases have no bearing on each other,” Maples said, “and I think that is one of the misconceptions that are out there.”

Maples would not elaborate on the point.

Attorneys representing Cape, which went out of business in 2005, claim the company is owed money for public projects it lost because Daniel Beaudoin, Cape’s former project manager, shared the company’s bid numbers with Vinton and Streu. A Racine County Circuit Court judge dismissed the suit, but a state court of appeals reversed the ruling in September.

Cape attorneys were unavailable to comment before deadline.

The appeals court judge Tuesday refused to reconsider the decision, rejecting requests filed last week by attorneys representing Vinton, Streu and Beaudoin.

The attorneys reiterated their case that Beaudoin was trying to help Cape’s operations by preventing the  company from overextending itself by winning too many contracts. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals District II rejected the argument when dismissing the request to reconsider the decision.

Attorneys representing Vinton and Streu on Wednesday said they will ask the state Supreme Court to hear the case.

“We’ll see what the Supreme Court has to say about it,” said Sean Bosack, a Vinton attorney.

According to a study commissioned for the lawsuit by Cape’s attorneys, a bid-rigging scheme from 1997 to 2004 influenced bids on $224.4 million in contracts, $176.3 million of which went to Streu, Vinton or Cape.

Cape won $26.4 million worth of those contracts, Streu got $82.7 million and Vinton $67.1 million.

According to the study, Cape would have won more than 60 percent of the contracts that went to one of the three companies for $110 million in contracts.

Maples would not say how much money is on the line for Vinton but said the outcome of the case will affect Vinton as a contractor.

“Why do I feel we should appeal?” he said. “We went through one year of testimony, six months of deposition and a (circuit court) judge ruled 100 percent unanimously for us. The appeals court apparently took a different view.”

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