Under threat of a lawsuit and with one member dissenting, the Davis County Commission Monday awarded the contract to build the county's new jail and court complex to Layton Construction Co.

A rival contractor, Big D Construction, maintains Layton's bid is flawed and the county has allowed the firm to stand by it after reviewing bids from other construction companies, violating Utah' bidding and procurement statute.Big D submitted a base bid of $13,528,000 to build the justice complex. The second lowest bidder on the base package was Hogan & Tingey Construction Co., $13,585,000. Layton's base bid was $13,612,000, putting it the third lowest.

The difference arises from the way the county and its architect, Edwards & Daniels, structured the bidding process.

Contractors were asked to bid on the basic construction package, the building that will house the jail, courtrooms, and sheriff's office. They were also asked to submit bids on 10 separate, supplemental parts of the project, ranging from landscaping and paving the parking areas to a climate control system.

Adding in the supplemental work, Layton's total construction bid of $14,653,000 is $4,000 less than Bid D's bid of $14,657,000.

But Big D chairman Dee Livingood and his attorney, Craig G. Adamson, say Layton made an obvious error in one part of its bid. By allowing Layton to review the rest of the competing bids after they were opened last week and then stand by its mistake, the county is violating state law, Adamson said Monday.

In the bidding schedule's outside lighting and signage category, the seven other contractors' bids ranged from $138,000 to $163,000. Layton's came in at $14,000.

Livingood and Adamson maintain that is a clerical error and the bid was meant to be $140,000, more in line with the competition. Adding the dropped zero, and putting the bid up to $140,000, puts Big D back in its rightful position as low bidder, according to Livingood.

Layton Construction spokesman Allan Layton, however, has said the bid is correct and is based on part of the groundwork being covered by another part of the bidding schedule.

Adamson has written the commission two letters, outlining what he says are legal errors by the commission and violations of state law in granting the contract to Layton. Although Commission Chairman William Peters said he expects the county to be sued over the decision, both Adamson and Livingood Monday stopped short of saying a suit will be filed.

"The bid was obviously erroneous, and the commission granting it is absolute poppycock," Livingood said.

"The commission gave one bidder an opportunity to bid twice, the second time after seeing the bid numbers from its competitors. That's obviously a violation of state statutes," Adamson said. "It's not a fair process. It's giving one bidder two bites at the apple."

Peters said the matter was studied by the county attorney's office, and the commission is operating on a legal opinion that the bid can be awarded to Layton.