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Lawsuit: You can’t use our radio towers, Harris Corp. tells state

Harris Corp., already fighting its loss of a more than half billion-dollar state radio contract, now is suing over allowing winning bidder Motorola to use its radio towers.

The Melbourne-based communications company filed suit Wednesday afternoon in Leon County Circuit Civil court against the Department of Management Services (DMS) and the Agency for State Technology — one day after its bid protest hearing started before an administrative law judge in Tallahassee.

Its filing — totaling 471 pages, including exhibits — says Harris bought radio towers from the state when it first got the contract to manage the state’s Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System, or SLERS, in September 2000.

SLERS is “a single, unified digital radio network that meets the radio voice communications needs of state law enforcement officers and other participating agencies throughout the state,” according to the DMS website. “The current system serves over 20,500 radios in patrol cars, boats, motorcycles and aircraft throughout the state.”

Even though the state kept a “limited right” to use the towers, the suit adds that it now can’t let Motorola Solutions use those same towers without Harris’ consent, which the suit explained the company isn’t willing to give.

The complaint seeks a court order against the state, forbidding it from allowing anyone but Harris to use the towers until June 2051, “or such earlier time as Harris elects to sell the towers (back) to the state.”

The latest lawsuit, assigned to Circuit Judge Karen Gievers, comes as attorneys for Harris, Motorola and the state are arguing and presenting witnesses this week before Administrative Law Judge J. Bruce Culpepper over the state’s decision to go with Motorola back in March.

On Tuesday, an attorney for Motorola told Culpepper that Harris, with 190 towers or sites, offered to charge the state $978 million, while Motorola bid $688 million and has 144 towers or sites. It wasn’t clear from the complaint whether those totals include the towers now being contested.

The bid protest hearing is scheduled through the end of this week.

Written By

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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