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District Court Dismisses Suit Against Federal Prison Industries.

A U.S. DISTRICT COURT in Michigan has dismissed a lawsuit alleging that Federal Prison Industries unfairly cuts into the private sector, the Holland (MI) Sentinel reported.

The suit was filed by Haworth Inc. of Holland, MI, Herman Miller Inc. of Zeeland, MI, Knoll Inc. of East Greenville, PA, and the Coalition for Government Procurement. The plaintiffs argued that FPI violated its own regulations when it expanded production to be able to fill government contracts in the 1990s, and that FPI unfairly cuts into the private sector.

Judge Robert Holmes Bell dismissed the case, writing that the United States Congress, rather than the courts, should determine the proper balance between the "economic burden" created by FPI and the policy of providing inmates with work.

Herman Miller spokesperson Mark Schurman expressed disappointment at the ruling, but noted that the judge's opinion was not a judgement on the merit of the case. "At the end of [the judge's] opinion, he says we may well have a good point, but he said that because Federal Prison Industries was created by Congress, and is governed by rules set up by Congress, this issue should be resolved in Congress," Schurman said.

Legislation to reform the FPI laws has been introduced in both houses of the United States Congress by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI).

Government agencies are required to offer office furniture contracts to FPI first. They can purchase from private companies only if FPI grants a waiver. The federal office furniture market is valued at up to $400 million.
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Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2001
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