Justia Government Contracts Opinion Summaries

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The Navy began a program to design and build littoral combat ships (LCS) and issued a request for proposals. During the initial phase of the LCS procurement, FastShip met with and discussed a potential hull design with government contractors subject to non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements. FastShip was not awarded a contract. FastShip filed an unsuccessful administrative claim, alleging patent infringement. The Claims Court found that the FastShip patents were valid and directly infringed by the government. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The Claims Court awarded FastShip attorney’s fees and expenses ($6,178,288.29); 28 U.S.C. 1498(a), which provides for a fee award to smaller entities that have prevailed on infringement claims, unless the government can show that its position was “substantially justified.” The court concluded that the government’s pre-litigation conduct and litigation positions were not “as a whole” substantially justified. It unreasonable for a government contractor to gather information from FastShip but not to include it as part of the team that was awarded the contract and the Navy took an exceedingly long time to act on FastShip’s administrative claim and did not provide sufficient analysis in denying the claim. The court found the government’s litigation positions unreasonable, including its arguments with respect to one document and its reliance on the testimony of its expert to prove obviousness despite his “extraordinary skill.” The Federal Circuit vacated. Reliance on this pre-litigation conduct in the fee analysis was an error. View "FastShip, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a provision in the Office of the State Public Defender's contract with private attorneys specifying that hourly compensation rates can unilaterally be changed by the State permits prospective changes in a contract attorney's compensation rate for existing cases. Appellants, private attorneys who contract with OPD to provide legal services for indigent clients, filed a class action complaint against the State, the Governor, and the Director of the Office of the State Public Defender (OPD) alleging that Defendants were liable for breach of contract or in violation of the Contract Clause stemming from the OPD's act of reducing rates for all contracted services and reducing pay for case-related travel. The district court granted the State's motion for summary judgment, ruling that the OPD did not breach its contract with Appellants because the contract specifically identified that the fee arrangement was subject to change by the Director. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that summary judgment was properly granted for the State. View "Brooke v. State" on Justia Law

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Dunbar, a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), was awarded an Army Corps of Engineers ditch and tributary project in Arkansas. Dunbar then hired a subcontractor, Harding Enterprises, to work on the project. After Harding Enterprises defaulted, Dunbar made a demand on the bond guaranteed by Hanover, which Hanover denied. Hanover then filed suit seeking a declaration that it had no obligations under the bond and seeking to have the bond rescinded based on illegality of the subcontract. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Hanover, holding that the district court erroneously concluded that the subcontract was undisputedly in violation of 13 C.F.R. 125.6(b)(2) because the percentage that Dunbar spent on contract performance relative to the prime contract price could not be conclusively ascertained until conclusion of performance of the prime contract. The court also held that the potential that Hanover may have liability under the False Claims Act if it were to perform under the bond does not justify discharging Hanover from its obligations and rescinding the contract. View "Hanover Insurance Co. v. Dunbar Mechanical Contractors, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Council handles contracts for over 200 New Jersey municipalities, police departments, and school districts. Mid-American sells bulk road salt. The Council's members estimated their salt needs for the 2016-17 winter. The Council issued a comprehensive bid package, anticipating the need for 115,000 tons of rock salt. MidAmerican won the contract, which stated: There is no obligation to purchase [the estimated] quantity. As required by the contract, Mid-American obtained a performance bond costing $93,016; imported $4,800,000 worth of salt from Morocco; and paid $31,250 per month to store the salt and another $58,962.26 to cover it. Mid-American incurred at least another $220,000 in finance costs and additional transportation costs. Council members purchased less than five percent of the estimated tonnage. Mid-American claims “several” Council members purchased salt from MidAmerican’s competitors, who lowered their prices after MidAmerican won the contract. Mid-American sued the Council and 49 of its members, alleging breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and bad faith under UCC Article 2. The Third Circuit affirmed the denial of relief. No valid requirements contract existed here because the contract was illusory. These sophisticated parties were capable of entering into precisely the contract they desired. Neither the Council nor its members ever promised to purchase from Mid-American all the salt they required View "Mid-American Salt LLC v. Morris County Cooperative Pricing Council" on Justia Law

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Relator filed a qui tam action under the False Claims Act (FCA) and the Florida False Claims Act (Florida FCA), against two skilled nursing home facilities, two related entities that provided management services at those and 51 other facilities in the state, and an affiliated company that provided rehabilitation services. The Eleventh Circuit denied the motion to dismiss, holding that relator has sufficiently demonstrated she has constitutional standing and thus the case or controversy requirement is satisfied. Furthermore, relator's entry into the litigation funding agreement does not violate the FCA. Drawing all inferences in favor of relator, the court held that the evidence at trial permitted a reasonable jury to find that defendants committed Medicare-related fraud. In this case, relator alleged that defendants defrauded Medicare through the use of two improper practices: upcoding and ramping. Furthermore, relator introduced sufficient evidence to permit a jury to reasonably conclude that La Vie Management caused the submission of false claims. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment as a matter of law to defendants as to the Medicare-related fraud claims. However, the court held that the district court correctly granted defendants' motion for judgment as a matter of law as to the alleged false Medicaid claims where, based on the evidence presented at trial, no jury could have reasonably concluded that defendants defrauded Medicaid. The court remanded with instructions for the district court to reinstate the jury's verdict in favor of relator, the United States, and the State of Florida and against defendants on the Medicare claims in the amount of $85,137,095, and to enter judgment on those claims after applying trebling and statutory penalties. The court also reversed and vacated the district court's grant of a conditional new trial. View "Ruckh v. Salus Rehabilitation, LLC" on Justia Law

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Relator filed a qui tam action against Trinity, alleging that Trinity violated the False Claims Act (FCA) by knowingly presenting a false or fraudulent claim to the government, making a false statement material to a false or fraudulent claim, and retaliating against him. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of Trinity's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, holding that the complaint failed to allege with particularity that defendant presented a false or fraudulent claim to the government or that it had made, used or caused to be used a false record or statement. In this case, relator's general allegations that Trinity's compensation scheme most likely resulted in the presentment of claims for payment or approval are insufficient; while there is no "presentment" requirement for a 31 U.S.C. 3729(a)(1)(B) claim, the plaintiff must plead a connection between the alleged fraud and the actual claim made payable to the government; because relator failed to allege with particularity that Trinity submitted a claim for payment to the government, he cannot establish that Trinity's allegedly false statements were "material" to any claim that was actually submitted; and relator's allegations are insufficient to establish that Trinity knew he was engaged in a protected activity. View "United States ex rel. Benaissa v. Trinity Health" on Justia Law

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Citynet filed a qui tam action against West Virginia officials, alleging that defendants defrauded the United States when obtaining federal funding for a program to improve broadband connectivity for West Virginia residents, in violation of the False Claims Act (FCA). Specifically, Citynet alleged that Defendants Gianato and Given, respectively the Director of the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the State Technology Officer, along with other defendants, knowingly submitted false statements and records to the United States as part of their application for funding under the federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and, once the funding was obtained, made false claims in drawing down funds under the Program. The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court's immunity ruling and remanded with instructions to deny Gianato and Given's claim of qualified immunity. Because the district court's ruling was contingent on the answer to the threshold legal question of whether qualified immunity may be invoked as a defense to FCA claims, the court exercised appellate jurisdiction and held that qualified immunity does not apply to protect government officials from claims against them for fraud under the Act. View "United States ex rel. Citynet, LLC v. Gianato" on Justia Law

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ACC, the subcontractor on a Corps flood protection project, filed suit against the prime contractor, Hirani, for breach of contract and the providers of Hirani's payment bond, Colonial, under the Miller Act for unpaid labor and materials. The district court entered judgment in favor of ACC and awarded damages against both defendants. The DC Circuit remanded the case to the district court to make findings of fact as to when the Prime Contract was terminated and whether ACC performed labor or supplied material on April 29 and/or April 30. In the event that Colonial and Hirani cannot meet their burden to show that ACC's Miller Act claim was untimely, then this court can resolve the parties' other Miller Act contentions. If Hirani and Colonial show that termination occurred before April 29 or that ACC performed no labor or supplied no material on April 29 or 30, the court can then address the Miller Act statute of limitations issue. The court affirmed the restitution damages award against Hirani on ACC's contract claim where ACC has not provided the court with any basis to deviate from the principle of D.C. law that restitution, not quantum meruit, is the proper remedy where there is an express contract between the parties. The court deferred addressing other issues raised by the parties. View "United States v. Hirani Engineering & Land Surveying, PC" on Justia Law

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The U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) awarded contracts for the opportunity to sell information technology services to various federal government agencies. Inserso did not receive an award; its total evaluated price was the 23rd lowest in a competition for 20 slots. DISA attached a debriefing document to its notice, including the total evaluated price for the awardees and some previously undisclosed information on how DISA evaluated the cost element of the proposals. Inserso sent follow-up communications, noting that several awardees in the small-business competition had also competed in the full-and-open competition as part of joint ventures or partnerships. Inserso asked whether those entities had received similarly detailed debriefings and expressed concern that, if so, the earlier debriefing would have provided unequal information giving a competitive advantage to some bidders. DISA stated that all unsuccessful bidders in both competitions were given similarly detailed information. The Federal Circuit ruled in favor of the government. Because Inserso did not object to the solicitation before the awards, when it was unreasonable to disregard the high likelihood of the disclosure at issue, Inserso forfeited its ability to challenge the solicitation. The court did not reach the issue of whether DISA’s disclosure prejudiced Inserso. View "Inserso Corp v. United States" on Justia Law

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Oliva worked for the VA, 2000-2016. In 2015, Oliva challenged the VA’s issuance of a letter of reprimand for Oliva accusing a supervisor of improperly pre-selecting an applicant for a position; Oliva claimed that his email constituted protected whistleblowing. Under a Settlement Agreement, the VA agreed to provide a written reference and the assurance of a positive verbal reference, if requested; Oliva’s Waco supervisor would not mention the retracted reprimand. Oliva was terminated from his employment in April 2016, for performance reasons. Oliva claims that the VA twice breached the Settlement: in March 2015, when Oliva applied for a position in the VA’s El Paso medical center the reprimand letter was disclosed and in February 2016, when Oliva applied for a position in the VA’s Greenville healthcare center a Waco employee disclosed that Oliva was on a Temporary Duty Assignment. The Claims Court held that Oliva’s complaint plausibly alleged breaches of the Agreement that resulted in the loss of future employment opportunities. Oliva sought $289,564 in lost salary and lost relocation pay of either $86,304 or $87,312. The Claims Court then held that Oliva had not stated plausible claims to recover lost salary or relocation pay. The Federal Circuit reversed. Oliva plausibly claimed that the alleged breaches were the cause of his lost salary. Oliva’s termination from his Waco job does not undercut that plausibility. View "Oliva v. United States" on Justia Law