NewsMarshall Fire


Boulder County files to dismiss lawsuit filed by company that lost bid for Marshall Fire debris removal

marshall fire dec 31
Posted at 5:27 PM, Apr 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-20 19:27:33-04

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — On Monday, Boulder County filed a motion asking the court to dismiss a lawsuit from one of the companies that lost the bid for the debris removal contract in the wake of the Marshall Fire.

The company, Florida-based Ceres Environmental Services, Inc., filed the lawsuit on April 5 asking a Boulder County judge to invalidate the contract between the county and the winning company DRC Emergency Services, LLC, which was chosen for the Private Property Debris Removal (PPDR) program.

In the lawsuit, Ceres claimed DRC was “an unqualified contractor who has neither the experience, timeline, nor pricing to justify the award.” The company claimed Boulder County “secretly” negotiated with DRC to have the company adjust its timeline and pricing, and that DRC misrepresented its work experience on prior post-wildfire cleanups.

After the filing, County Attorney Ben Pearlman said the lawsuit is "without merit."

"It’s heartbreaking that a large disaster management firm with no ties to Colorado is attempting to hold up our ability to make progress in Marshall Fire recovery efforts," he continued. "We’ve learned throughout this process that in the highly competitive environment of private disaster management firms, like Ceres, are focused more on money than on the families affected by disasters."

A few days after the lawsuit was filed, Ceres said it would drop the suit if all the proposals are retallied "in a fair and transparent review."

On Monday, Boulder County asked the court to dismiss Ceres' lawsuit, saying the company does not have standing to file. The contract signing has already been held up by two appeals, including one from Ceres. Both were dismissed, as was a lawsuit that challenged the manner in which the bid was awarded to DRC.

In its motion, the county listed out multiple reasons for its motion.

First, it noted Ceres is not a Boulder or Colorado taxpayer — something that the court mentioned in the dismissal of one of the prior lawsuits against the county.

Second, the lawsuit is based on the speculation that FEMA will deny reimbursement of the cleanup costs, but the agency has not made a funding decision yet, the county claims. FEMA previously determined that the county's PPDR program was eligible for reimbursement.

Ceres has filed a motion for a preliminary injunction and the court has indicated it will rule on the county's motion to dismiss before the company's motion.

Boulder County said in early April that it is moving forward without changes to its current timeline unless a judge orders otherwise. The efforts began this week.