Licensing is the battlefield over claims about unfair competition between businesses and non-profits in Arkansas. A June 6 decision by an appellate court in Alabama rejected jurisdiction for an appeal by the Huntsville Housing Authority against a decision by the Alabama Licensing Board for General Contractors
(Huntsville Housing Authority v. State of Alabama Licensing Board for General Contractors).
According to the Housing Authority, the board denied the organization a license on the grounds that it was a public entity. Although the board had made an initial ruling, the court held, it had not issued a final decision which could be appealed.
In January 2013, the board denied an application for a general contractor’s license by the Huntsville Housing Authority. Officials from the organization claimed that the board stated that the Housing Authority, as a non-profit, was not eligible for a contractor’s license and that, as a public entity, it was inappropriate for the organization to compete with private companies. Neither justification for the denial, the Authority argued, was permissible under the law.
The Authority claims that, in March, after the Housing Authority asked for a reconsideration of the decision, board personnel informed the organization by telephone that it was confirming the application’s denial, although no formal written decision was ever delivered. The Authority then filed a judicial complaint seeking to appeal the decision. Faced with the appeal, the board argued that the judicial system did not have proper jurisdiction over the case, as no final judgment had been made.
The court agreed. “[The board’s] statement to the assistant to HHA’s counsel during the March 2013 telephone conversation appears, at best, to be a courtesy or a preliminary notice of denial, informing HHA to expect a final written decision of the Board regarding the denial; no such final written decision appears to have been rendered.” Without the existence of a formal final decision, the HHA had no grounds for appeal.
The court dismissed the case to await further action by the board.