W.C. Fore takes state port to court

 W.C. "Cotton" Fore of W.C. Fore Trucking.
FILE PHOTO W.C. "Cotton" Fore of W.C. Fore Trucking. SUN HERALD

GULFPORT -- W.C. "Cotton" Fore and the state port will square off Thursday morning in Circuit Court over a $44 million contract the port awarded to another contractor even though Fore's company was low bidder.

Fore's bid was $126,766 lower than the bid submitted by the selected contractor, Necaise Bros. Construction Co.

In his lawsuit, Fore asks that the contract be awarded to him, or that he be granted $8.9 million in lost profits.

Judge Larry Bourgeois will decide after a hearing Thursday whether the port followed the law in awarding the contract to Necaise. If Bourgeois rules against the port, a jury will determine what damages Fore is owed.

The port's board of commissioners contended it awarded the contract to Necaise because W.C. Fore Trucking Co. failed to list all its subcontractors and provide their certificates of responsibility with its bid. Fore maintains state law did not require the information on his two subcontractors because their work represented no more than 10 percent of his total bid. He said the port wrongly assumed the subcontractors would be paid more than 10 percent of the bid price and never asked Fore to remedy the issue.

The bid calls for the contractor to elevate the east side of the West Pier to 14 feet -- the elevation reached on the west side -- and install rail, water and sewer lines, plus drainage and electrical systems. It is part of the restoration and expansion of the West Pier undertaken after Hurricane Katrina with $570 million in federal funds for economic development.