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VIEVU files suit against TASER International for interference in Phoenix solicitation
ONTARIO, CA Feb. 16, 2017 The Safariland Group, the parent company of VIEVU®, a leader in body-worn video and digital evidence management, today announced that VIEVU has filed a complaint against TASER International, Inc. (NASDAQ: TASR) in the Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County. The complaint, which alleges that TASER maliciously interfered with VIEVU's contract award for body-worn cameras by the City of Phoenix (the "City"), illustrates how TASER persistently violated the City's procurement and ethical rules through illegal communications, leading the City to disqualify TASER from consideration of the award.
In March 2016, VIEVU, along with eight other bidders including TASER, submitted proposals in response to the City's 2016 request-for-proposal ("2016 RFP") for a body-worn camera contract. The proposals were evaluated by a committee that included members of the Phoenix Police Department, which reviewed and scored the bidders on four criteria: Method of Approach (350 points); Testing (250 points); Experience and Qualifications (200 points); and Cost (200 points). After nearly six months of assessment, the City publicly announced in September 2016 that VIEVU was the "highest scored" bidder and recommended recipient of the City's body-worn camera contract. VIEVU scored 88 points higher than TASER, its nearest competitor, with a price that was more than $2.3 million lower than TASER's. As part of the process, a losing bidder had seven days to file a protest to the contract recommendation; no bidders, including TASER, filed a protest. The City and VIEVU then fully negotiated the terms of the contract, which was subject to final approval by the City Council in October 2016.
In its complaint, which seeks compensatory, punitive and/or exemplary damages, pre- and post-judgment interest and fees and costs, VIEVU alleges:
- TASER's illegal scheme to interfere with VIEVU's contract violates the Transparency Policy and City Code:
- Knowing there was no legitimate basis to protest VIEVU's award, TASER mounted an improper and illegal campaign to influence the City to cancel VIEVU's award;
- TASER subsequently escalated its lobbying efforts to ensure the City would not award VIEVU its contract;
- As part of this lobbying effort, TASER engaged in improper communications with the Phoenix Police Chief and Assistant Police Chief;
- The City shortly thereafter disqualified TASER from further consideration of the award of the body-worn camera contract for violating the City's Solicitation Transparency Policy;
- The City emphasized that TASER was well aware of the City's procurement rules, yet ignored them nonetheless; and
- The City admonished TASER that any and all future contact regarding the 2016 RFP must go through the City's Procurement Officer.
- TASER has ignored the City's direction to stop violating the Transparency Policy and instead launched a persistent and illegal attack against VIEVU:
- TASER and its CEO subsequently "doubled-down" on TASER's strategy to unlawfully influence the City;
- TASER engaged Williams & Associates and Mike Williams as lobbyists with the City;
- As part of these lobbying efforts, TASER offered free cameras, supporting software, storage and training for one year;
- The City promptly rejected the offer, stating that it was "intended to improperly influence the City to choose TASER's equipment" after TASER had been disqualified;
- Undeterred by the disqualification, TASER actively and improperly influenced the City Council to reject the results of the 2016 RFP; and
- TASER's illegal and unethical conduct eventually succeeded and the City cancelled the 2016 RFP without offering any reason for its decision.
VIEVU issued the following statement regarding its lawsuit:
"VIEVU is committed to providing best-in-class body-worn cameras and video technologies for law enforcement agencies across the country. We are proud to have been selected, through a competitive and public process, as the recommended recipient of the body-worn camera contract for the City of Phoenix. TASER has a well-documented history of unlawful and unethical public procurement practices, and the steps we are taking today are necessary to not only protect our leading franchise but also the integrity of these vital procurement processes relating to a matter of significant public importance. TASER's conduct in this matter demonstrated a blatant and willful disregard for the rules and makes a mockery of spirit and letter of every regulation Phoenix put in place to ensure fairness. Moreover, once caught and called out by the press, TASER resorts to retroactive statements about a questionable policy of offering cameras free to major market agencies, despite there being no evidence they have done so in any case other than New York City, where it is illegal to offer free gifts to agencies from whom one is seeking business, and in Phoenix, where the City noted that if Phoenix tried this stunt again would be disbarred from doing business with the City. We value our relationship with Phoenix and its Police Department, with whom we have worked with since 2012, and look forward to a swift and just resolution of this matter."