News & Articles

Challenges to Federal and State DBE Programs Overruled
Published Friday, December 9, 2016
by Pugh, Jones & Johnson, P.C.

 Recently, the Seventh Circuit overruled challenges to the federal and state programs that offer advantages in highway construction to disadvantaged enterprises known as DBEs. Pugh, Jones & Johnson ("PJJ") defended the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority in Midwest Fence Corporation v. The United States Department of Transporta-tion, et al., No. 10–CV-05627 (N.D. Ill.)/Case 15-1827 (7th Cir.) (attached). Plaintiff Midwest Fence Corp. ("MWF"), a white and male-owned contractor specializing in guardrail and fencing, filed a 17-count complaint against our client, the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority and its Board of Directors ("Tollway"), and co-defendants, the Illinois Department of Transportation ("IDOT") and its Secretary, the Federal Highway Administration and its Administrator, and the US Department of Transportation and its Secretary, in the Northern District of Illinois federal court. MWF made an equal protection challenge to the constitutionality of the federal government’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise ("DBE") program, and as-applied constitutional challenges to the Tollway’s and IDOT’s DBE programs. MWF sought to enjoin the Tollway’s DBE program in its entirety and also sought nearly $4 million in damages for contracts it purportedly lost due to operation of the program. The Court granted the Tollway total summary judgment relief. Central to the Court’s grant of summary judgment was its detailed analysis of the disparity studies that were proffered by the defendants’ experts. The ruling was affirmed on appeal by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Read the full opinion here.



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