A federal judge yesterday ordered the General Services Administration to honor three contracts to purchase office furiture from Art Metal-USA Inc., even though GSA says government agencies have enough furniture.
U.S. District Judge Harold H. Greene, ruling on requests filed by lawyers for the Newark furniture maker, said GSA Administrator Rowland G. Freeman III really was trying to stop purchases from Art Metal when he ordered a halt to all furniture-buying by GSA.
Greene previously had barred GSA from discriminating against Art Metal, which has been the subject of internal, Justice Department, and Senate investigations into allegations that the company produces shoddy products and makes kickbacks to GSA inspectors.
Greene said he found that Freeman's moratorium on furniture purchases "was not prompted by an alleged surplus or excess of furniture, but was issued solely in order to deprive Art Metal of the contracts. . ."
Greene said GSA could still halt purchases under two of the contracts if it determines in the future that the government has enough furniture. He also declined to cite Freeman in contempt of court, as requested by Art Metal, and apparently left the way open for GSA to halt purchases from companies other than Art Metal.