Justia Government Contracts Opinion Summaries

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After Phelps was awarded a public works contract by the CDCR, another bidder successfully challenged the award, obtaining a ruling in a San Diego trial court that Phelps's bid was "non-responsive as a matter of law" due to its inclusion of "non-waivable mathematical/typographical errors." Phelps then filed suit against CDCR, seeking to recover the costs it expended on the project. The trial court held that the San Diego trial court's ruling was itself the result of a defect in the competitive bidding process caused solely by CDCR, and entered judgment in favor of Phelps. The Court of Appeal reversed, holding that judgment on the pleadings should have been granted. The court held that the language in Public Contract Code section 5110 provides that the parties to a challenged public contract may enter into that contract pending final resolution of the challenge, but if the challenge is resolved by invalidation because the public entity was at fault, the contractor may recover. Applying section 5110 in this case, the court held that the contract was invalidated for a material error in Phelps's bid, not for any defect in the competitive bidding process, much less a defect caused solely by CDCR. Therefore, section 5110 could not provide a basis for recovery. The court held that application of the doctrine of collateral estoppel would produce the same result, and rejected Phelps's late-raised alternative ground. However, the court affirmed the trial court's denial of recovery on CDCR's cross-complaint for disgorgement. View "Hensel Phelps Construction Co. v. Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation" on Justia Law

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Upon reconsideration of the scope of the revised Federal Officer Removal Statute, the en banc court held that Avondale was entitled to remove this negligence case filed by a former Navy machinist because of his exposure to asbestos while the Navy's ship was being repaired at the Avondale shipyard under a federal contract. The en banc court aligned with its sister circuits and relied on the plain language of the Removal Clarification Act of 2011, holding that, to remove under 28 U.S.C. 1442(a), a defendant must show (1) it has asserted a colorable federal defense, (2) it is a "person" within the meaning of the statute, (3) that has acted pursuant to a federal officer's directions, and (4) the charged conduct is connected or associated with an act pursuant to a federal officer's directions. In this case, the pleadings satisfied the "connection" condition of removal. Accordingly, the en banc court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Latiolais v. Huntington Ingalls, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the United States in a False Claims Act (FCA) suit alleging that BestCare obtained millions of dollars in reimbursements from Medicare for miles that its technicians never traveled. The court held that the district court did not err in granting the Government's motions for summary judgment where BestCare violated the Medicare statute's limitations on travel reimbursements. Furthermore, the court rejected BestCare's alternative argument that their good-faith reliance on the CMS Manual created a genuine dispute about whether they had the requisite mental state to violate the FCA. Because the court affirmed the $30.6 million award under the FCA, defendant's challenge to the $10.6 million award was moot. Finally, the district court did not err in holding Defendant Maghareh jointly and severally liable, and defendants' claim that the district court should be recused under 28 U.S.C. 455 lacked merit. View "United States ex rel. Drummond v. BestCare Laboratory Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals holding that a proposed charter amendment was not manifestly unconstitutional but was an improper referendum, holding that the proposed amendment was not an improper exercise of the charter amendment power and was not manifestly unconstitutional. After the City of Bloomington changed from a system of open trash collection to a system of organized collection a group of residents attempted, through an amendment to the City Charter, to require that voters pre-approve a change in the method of trash collection. The City refused to put the proposed charter amendment on the ballot. In the original appeal, the Supreme Court remanded the case to the court of appeals for decision on whether the proposed amendment would violate the Contract Clauses of the United States and Minnesota Constitutions and whether it was an attempt to exercise the voter referendum power through an improper means. On remand, the court of appeals concluded that the proposed amendment was an improper referendum but was not unconstitutional. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the proposed charter amendment was not an improper referendum and did not violate the Contract Clauses. View "Jennissen v. City of Bloomington" on Justia Law

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Acetris obtains its pharmaceutical products from Aurolife, which makes them in a New Jersey facility, using an active pharmaceutical ingredient made in India. Acetris had contracts to supply the VA with several pharmaceutical products, including Entecavir (used to treat hepatitis B). The VA requested that Acetris recertify its compliance with the Trade Agreements Act of 1979 (TAA), which bars the VA from purchasing “products of” certain foreign countries, such as India. Ultimately, the VA requested that Acetris obtain a country-of-origin determination. Customs concluded that the Acetris products were products of India. Acetris agreed to cancel its Entecavir contract. The VA issued a new solicitation seeking proposals for Entecavir, indicating that it would continue to rely on the Customs determination. Acetris filed suit, challenging the VA’s interpretation of the TAA. The VA awarded the Entecavir contract to Golden, consistent with its policy to award contracts to the lowest-price technically acceptable bid. The government moved to dismiss the suit, arguing that Acetris lacked standing because Acetris would not have won the contract regardless of the interpretation of the TAA and that Acetris’ earlier-filed Court of International Trade suits divested the Claims Court of jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1500. The Claims Court denied the government’s motions and rejected the government’s interpretation of the TAA. The Federal Circuit affirmed in part, holding that the suit is justiciable and agreeing with the Claims Court. The court remanded for the entry of a declaratory judgment and injunction. View "Acetris Health, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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G4, LLC, entered into a lease in 2009 with the City of Picayune, Mississippi, for land on the grounds of the Picayune Municipal Airport. After the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors assessed ad valorem taxes on the leased land, G4 paid the taxes under protest and petitioned the Board for a refund and for a refund of taxes it had paid on lots in the Tin Hill subdivision. The Board denied G4’s petition, and G4 appealed to the Circuit Court of Pearl River County, which affirmed. G4 appealed, asserting that, according to the Mississippi Supreme Court’s decision in Rankin County Board of Supervisors v. Lakeland Income Properties, LLC, 241 So. 3d 1279 (Miss. 2018), it was automatically exempt from paying ad valorem taxes on the airport property. The Supreme Court agreed, reversed and remanded the circuit court’s decision that affirmed the Board’s refusal to refund the airport property taxes. The Court affirmed the circuit court’s decision that G4 was not entitled to a refund of taxes paid on the Tin Hill subdivision lots. View "G4, LLC v. Pearl River County Board of Supervisors" on Justia Law

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Saginaw County has nearly 200,000 residents. A single company, Mobile Medical, has provided the county’s ambulance services since 2009. The county guaranteed Mobile the exclusive right to operate within its borders; Mobile pledged to serve all eight of Saginaw County’s cities and incorporated villages and its 27 rural townships. In 2011, STAT, a competing ambulance company, entered the Saginaw market, providing patient-transport services for an insurer as part of a contract that covered six Michigan counties. A municipality, dissatisfied with Mobile’s response times and fees, hired STAT. When Saginaw County proposed to extend Mobilel’s contract in 2013, STAT objected, arguing that the arrangement violated state law, federal antitrust law, and the Fourteenth Amendment. The county approved Mobile's new contract and enacted an ordinance that codified the exclusivity arrangement but never enforced the ordinance. STAT continued to insist that Michigan law permitted it to offer ambulance services. Saginaw County sought a federal declaratory judgment that Michigan law authorizes the exclusive contract and that it does not violate federal antitrust laws or the U.S. Constitution by prohibiting STAT from operating in the county. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the claim for lack of jurisdiction. The county failed to establish an actual or imminent injury. Federal courts have the power to tell parties what the law is, not what it might be in potential enforcement actions. View "Saginaw County. v. STAT Emergency Medical Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2006-2010, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded DAI developmental services contracts for Afghanistan. DAI subcontracted with EI, which employed over 1,000 individuals to provide security services. Afghanistan imposed a $2 million fine on EI based on the size and composition of EI’s private security workforce. EI paid the fine, allocating the expense among DAI’s contracts. In May 2017, DAI submitted EI’s claims to USAID. DAI’s cover letter characterized itself as a certification. DAI also included EI’s certifications stating that each claim was in good faith; 70 days after DAI submitted its claims, the contracting officer notified DAI that the submission did not contain a contractor certification. DAI filed appeals. The Board dismissed DAI’s claims for lack of jurisdiction based on DAI’s failure to certify the claims (41 U.S.C. 7103(a)(1)), stating that DAI’s May 2017 certification bore no resemblance to the required statutory language, that DAI made its certification with reckless disregard for the requirements, and that nontechnical mistakes in the certification and DAI’s recklessness rendered DAI’s purported certification unsalvageable. The Federal Circuit reversed. The statute provides that “[a] defect in the certification of a claim does not deprive a court or an agency board of jurisdiction over the claim.” EI’s certifications, which mirror the certification language of 48 C.F.R. 33.207(c), evidence an intent to certify the claims. Because the contracting officer failed to issue a decision within the statutory period, DAI’s claim was deemed denied and became appealable, 41 U.S.C. 7103(f)(5). View "DAI Global, LLC v. Administrator of United States Agency for International Development" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court remanded this matter questioning whether Cal. Govt. Code 1092 gave Plaintiff, a citizens' taxpayer organization, statutory standing to invalidate certain contracts allegedly made in violation of Cal. Govt. Code 1090, holding that section 1092 did not provide Plaintiff a private right of action because it was not a party to the contracts. Plaintiff sued the City of San Diego and its Public Facilities Financing Authority (collectively, Defendants), asserting that aspects of a refinancing transaction in which the City sought to refinance the remaining debt on its bonds to finance the construction of Petco Park, violated section 1090. The complaint asserted that the issuance of new bonds to accomplish the refinancing violated section 1090. The trial court ruled in favor of Defendants, concluding that section 1092 confers standing only on the parties to a challenged contract. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff cannot sue under section 1092. View "San Diegans for Open Government v. Public Facilities Financing Authority of the City of San Diego" on Justia Law

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Rushton, an Illinois Times journalist, requested from the Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC) settlement agreements pertaining to claims filed in connection with the death of Franco, a former Taylorville inmate who died from cancer, including agreements involving Wexford, which contracts with DOC to provide medical for inmates. The DOC did not have a copy of the Wexford agreement. Wexford claimed that it was “confidential” and not a public record for purposes of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Wexford provided the DOC’s FOIA officer with a redacted version, which the DOC gave to Rushton. Rushton and the Times filed suit. The court allowed Wexford to intervene and ordered Wexford to provide an unredacted version of the agreement to the court under seal. Wexford argued that the agreement did not “directly relate” to the governmental function that it performs for the DOC because it memorializes its independent business decision to settle a legal claim, without mentioning Franco’s medical condition or medical care. The plaintiffs characterized the agreement as "settlement of a claim that Wexford failed to perform its governmental function properly" and argued that the amount of the settlement affected taxpayers. The Illinois Supreme Court held that the agreement is subject to FOIA. The statute is to be construed broadly in favor of disclosure. The contractor stood in the shoes of the DOC when it provided medical care to inmates. The settlement agreement was related to the provision of medical care to inmates, and public bodies may not avoid disclosure obligations by delegating their governmental function to a third party. View "Rushton v. Department of Corrections" on Justia Law