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Construction company gets $9 million contract from the City of Dallas — while suing the city

Dallas City Hall
A construction firm whose president has served as the campaign treasurer for Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Omar Narvaez got a $9 million contract to repair city buildings — at the same time it is suing the city.

Dallas City Council members voted Wednesday to award a $9 million contract to a Dallas construction company — at the same time the firm is suing the city over another contract and its president apparently serves as Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Omar Narvaez’s campaign treasurer.

Gadberry Construction Company was contracted to repair 12 Dallas Water Utilities department buildings that need new roofs and other minor repairs.

The work contract was buried in a consent agenda for Wednesday’s council meeting. But when the contract came up one council member needed clarification and another asked for a record vote.

“Aren’t we in litigation with them?” Council Member Paula Blackmon asked.

Interim City Attorney Tammy Palomino says after discussion within the city attorney’s office, the decision was made to allow Gadberry Construction Company to continue to do business with the city, despite ongoing litigation.

“The specs did not prohibit us from contracting with someone who has a lawsuit against the city,” Palomino said during Wednesday’s meeting.

City documents show that Dustin Gadberry, the president the firm, was first listed as the campaign treasurer for Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Omar Narvaez in 2016. But there was no mention of that at Wednesday’s council meeting.

Narvaez was at the meeting but did not vote on the contract.

KERA reached out to Narvaez and Gadberry’s firm for comment Wednesday afternoon and was waiting for their response at the time this story was published.

Gadberry’s company filed a lawsuit against the city in 2022 after the firm was denied a construction bid for the Hi Line Connector Trail. The project would connect two sections of the Katy Trail, a popular pedestrian route through Dallas. The project was approved at a cost of up to $11.5 million.

After the city awarded the bid to a different contractor, Gadberry expressed concerns about the way contractors are picked for city projects. He says his company was passed over.

“What I’m asking for is for the council to review this independently and make sure the criteria that was applied to Gadberry is the same that is applied to every low-bid project,” Gadberry said during an April 2022 council meeting.

Gadberry said his company was subject to either a complete violation of city standards or “at worst a backroom deal that needs further investigation.”

Some council members agreed with the company’s owner. Three council members voted to delay the approval of a new construction company to run the project.

“I don’t know who did this or who is in charge, but why is Gadberry being treated differently?” Narvaez said during the same April 2022 meeting.

The council voted against delaying a new contract, which was awarded to a different construction firm in 2022. Narvaez did not recuse himself and voted in favor of reevaluating Gadberry’s bid.

Now Gadberry’s construction firm will be paid to fix city-owned buildings while also engaging in active litigation with the city. Dallas city council approved the contract with a vote of 9-4. In addition to Narvaez, Council Member Tennell Atkins also was absent when the vote was taken.

Got a tip? Email Nathan Collins at You can follow Nathan on Twitter @nathannotforyou.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gifttoday. Thank you.

Nathan Collins is the Dallas Accountability Reporter for KERA. Collins joined the station after receiving his master’s degree in Investigative Journalism from Arizona State University. Prior to becoming a journalist, he was a professional musician.