Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Company that won Joplin skating park project facing $10 million fraud suit

A $10 million plus federal lawsuit accuses American Ramp Company, the company that was awarded the Ewert Park skating facility contract at Monday night's Joplin City Council meeting, of fraud and placing children's lives at risk.

The accusations, all of which were denied by ARC in court filings, are included in a lawsuit filed December 20, 2010, in U. S. District Court for the Central District of California. A jury trial is scheduled to begin June 28, according to court records.

Joplin City Council members, including Dr. Benjamin Rosenberg, who cast the only vote against awarding the contract to ARC, should be concerned by some of the allegations incliuded in the petition.

Rosenberg noted the lack of bid specifications, cost, and the fact that the bidding procedure included a note that preference would be given to a company that had knowledge of Joplin. American Ramp is headquartered in Joplin.

The lawsuit, being brought by a competitor, Spohn Ranch, Inc. accuses ARC of fixing bid specifications so that it is the only company that can possibly be awarded contracts.Also listed as plaintiffs in the case are the United States, and the states of California, Massachusetts, Virginia, Tennessee, New York, and Delaware. The U. S. and the other states are not actively participating in the lawsuit, according to court documents, but all have consented to remain as plaintiffs and have asked to be kept informed. The petition claims ARC has violated fair trade practices and committed fraud in each of those states and has also violated federal regulations.

The lawsuit says ARC weeds out the competition through the aggressive marketing of its steel "fastener-free" skate parks, the petition says.

ARC has successfully marketed its Pro Series as all-steel skatepark equipment that has "fastener-free riding surfaces." The "fastener-free" aspect of the Pro Series is its competitive advantage. ARC advertises this claim in every in every possible way, from brochures catalogs, websites, e-mail, and actual product specifications.

While doing this, the petition says, ARC has taken advantage of the fact that there have been no industry-wide standards to claim that its product meets such standards.

"Cities and other purchasers are typically their first and only park; thus, they are uneducated and lack any objective information to rely upon."

Oftentimes ARC has convinced municipal governments and other entities wanting to build skate parks that its specifications are the industry standards, and the cities end up offering the same specifications to potential bidders, saying it is vital that skating parks be "fastener-free."

The lawsuit claims ARC's boasts of higher safety for its "fastener-free" parks is false because its testing takes place with fasteners and then the parks are installed without them. That claim was made by a third-party engineer, Daniel Ryan, who conducted the safety tests, according to the petition.

Ryan's sworn statement proves that, in conjunction with relator's investigation, ARC's statements, promises, and representations were false, and were made with sufficient knowledge that ARC knew they were false.

The petition indicates the plaintiffs have been unable to find any records of anyone besides Ryan who had tested ARC's equipment.


Anonymous said...

Same thing here in Joplin: "knowledge of the Joplin community" was part of the bid requirement. Effectively locking out all non-local company bids regardless of the bid price.

And who pays for this: Joplin Taxpayers.
Thank you Randy for doing what the Council should have done in their own process; and what the Joplin Globe is afraid to do: call out the BS.

Anonymous said...

Randy, why don't you ask some questions of the parks director since the Globe won't do it. He's been making some questionable decisions with taxpayer money lately. Is there a chance ARC is giving him a kickback somewhere? The ARC office is pretty close to the parks office. Coincidence?

Anonymous said...

They do make the Cadillac of skate ramps...they sure know what they are doing and the fastener free or rivet free ramp that they build sure is a lot smoother. The lawsuit against them sounds like a money grab because they did not have the necessary documentation to back up their claims. But any skateboarder who has skated other ramps will tell you theirs is the best system.

Anonymous said...

skateboarders should know

dude said...

What does knowledge of town have anything to do with a ramp

dude said...

Does knowing your town make a better ramp

dude said...

Thats how they make money. Over rated and outrageous claims

Anonymous said...





Anonymous said...

There's two sides to every story. This doesn't look look good though. Looks like time to call the scrappers.
Why American Ramp Company should NOT build your skatepark

Anonymous said...

to Anonymous 4:52 --- how does your religious inspiration explain the failure of the American Ramp- sponsored group once known as "The Bridge" which raised lots of money from well meaning folks hoping to help local youth -- only to see it frittered away. The only money coming out of that went to Am Ramp. Same people; same BS.

anonymous said...

The bridge was a mistake. It was a place for kids to leave there parents for 2 hours or so and have sex and do drugs an smoke. Coming from my own experiences there as a teenager. There was never anyone watching us besides the dude selling snacks and energy drinks, but he didnt care. It was common to walk in an see the other teenagers faces locked together because they werent being watched, you could go outside in the back and have a cigarrette or a joint, whatever the kids smoking when you walk out. Its a parents worst nightmare, and they didnt even know it until it was over. It was supposed to look innocent, and it did. But in reality, it was a place to go suck face with your boyfriend and girlfriend and get screwed up on energy drinks and buy an use drugs. My daughter or son would never step foot into a place like that.

anonymous said...

It was frittered away for a reason. It was a place to meet up, buy drugs, suck face with your boyfriend or girlfriend and your parents not have any clue. Im 20 years old now an find it disturbing that it was ever opened. It was cool when i was 13 or 14. But im 20 years old. And i wouldnt let my children step foot in a place that has little to no supervision, and unlimited energy drinks.