Justia Government Contracts Opinion Summaries

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In 2010, the Army granted Authentic a nonexclusive license to manufacture and sell clothing bearing the Army’s trademarks. The agreement required the Army’s advance written approval of any products and marketing materials bearing the Army’s trademarks and included exculpatory clauses that exempted the Army from liability for exercising its discretion to deny approval. In 2011-2014, Authentic submitted nearly 500 requests for approval; the Army disapproved 41 submissions. During that time, Authentic received several formal notices of material breach for claimed failures to timely submit royalty reports and pay royalties. Authentic eventually paid its royalties through 2013. Authentic’s counsel indicated that Authentic would not pay outstanding royalties for 2014.Authentic's ensuing breach of contract suit cited the Army’s denial of the right to exploit the goodwill associated with the Army’s trademarks, refusal to permit Authentic to advertise its contribution to Army recreation programs, delay of approval for a financing agreement, denial of approval for advertising, and breach of the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing by not approving the sale of certain garments. The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the government. The license agreement stated in no uncertain terms that the Army had “sole and absolute discretion” regarding approval of Authentic’s proposed products and marketing materials; the exercise of that broad approval discretion is not inconsistent with principles of trademark law. View "Authentic Apparel Geoup, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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In 2017, the Department of Homeland Security issued the Solicitation as a Request for Proposal for a potentially multi-year contract for dorm management services at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia. During the evaluation process, the government eliminated Safeguard’s proposal from consideration because Safeguard omitted pricing information for 16 contract line item numbers totaling $6,121,228.The Claims Court and Federal Circuit upheld the award to another bidder. The Solicitation required offerors to submit the pricing information and provided notice that elimination was possible if that pricing information was omitted. Safeguard’s omissions were material and not subject to waiver or clarification. The court upheld the denial of Safeguard’s email request to supplement the administrative record through discovery and the denial of its motion to supplement the administrative record with affidavits. The Claims Court had jurisdiction over a claim that the government breached an implied-in-fact contract to fairly and honestly consider an offeror’s proposal in the procurement context under 28 U.S.C. 1491(b)(1). View "Safeguard Base Operations, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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In 2009, MC-2 was awarded Government Services Administration (GSA) task order to provide services for the annual GovEnergy Conference. MC-2 performed the Task Order in 2009, 2010, and 2011. GSA canceled the 2012 Conference before it began and requested that MC-2 return the entire Reserve Fund and an accounting for the Reserve Fund over the contract's life. MC-2 purportedly responded days later, arguing that GSA never before claimed that it was entitled to the difference between the Conference revenue and expenses, that MC-2 was entitled to any excess revenue, and that MC-2 had submitted a final accounting at the end of each contracting year. In 2012, MC-2 submitted a termination-for-convenience proposal.In November 2015, GSA sent MC-2 a letter providing the Contracting Officer’s final decision on MC-2’s proposal, which had sought $717,680.10, stating that the Government believed that MC-2 owed the government money. The decision stated that “GSA considers the Reserve Fund balance a contract debt. In January 2018, GSA sent a follow-up letter, demanding payment of $660,013.68. Because MC-2 had not appealed the November 2015 Final Decision, GSA deemed MC-2’s debt “final and conclusive,” 41 U.S.C. 7103(g)).In December 2018, MC-2 filed suit, arguing that the 2015 GSA letter was not a final decision because it failed to state a sum certain. The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit as untimely because it was not brought within 12 months of the 2015 decision, as required by 41 U.S.C. 7104(b)(3). GSA issued a valid claim under the Contract Disputes Act for the return of the Reserve Funds; GSA’s claim was the subject of a written decision by the GSA contracting officer; and MC-2 failed to file suit within 12 months of receiving the contracting officer’s final decision View "Creative Management Services, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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In 2013, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command installed copyrighted graphics-rendering software created by German company Bitmanagement onto all computers in the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet. No express contract or license agreement authorized the Navy’s actions. In 2016, Bitmanagement filed suit, alleging copyright infringement, 28 U.S.C. 1498(b). The Claims Court found that, while Bitmanagement had established a prima facie case of copyright infringement, the Navy was not liable because it was authorized to make copies by an implied license, arising from the Navy’s purchase of individual licenses to test the software and various agreements between the Navy and the vendor.The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded for the calculation of damages. The Claims Court ended its analysis prematurely by failing to consider whether the Navy complied with the terms of the implied license, which can readily be understood from the parties’ entire course of dealings. The implied license was conditioned on the Navy using a license-tracking software, Flexera, to “FlexWrap” the program and monitor the number of simultaneous users. The Navy failed to effectively FlexWrap the copies it made; Flexera tracking did not occur as contemplated by the implied license. That failure to comply creates liability for infringement. View "Bitmanagement Software GMBH v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Federal Circuit affirmed the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals' decision denying P.K. Management's claim that it should receive individual payments for inspections of Custodial properties under a contract with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The court agreed with the Board's determination that the contract terms unambiguously cover routine inspections through a monthly fee rather than individual payments.In this case, the court read the Contract as whole and held that the plain meaning places compensation for routine inspections of Custodial properties under Contract Line Item Numbers (CLIN) 0006 rather than CLIN 0005AA. The court explained that, because the Contract is unambiguous, it follows the plain meaning without considering extrinsic evidence or related arguments. The court considered P.K. Management's remaining arguments and found them unpersuasive. View "P.K. Management Group, Inc. v. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development" on Justia Law

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The Army Corps of Engineers issued a request for proposals. NIKA bid but was not awarded a contract. NIKA made a timely request for debriefing. The Corps sent NIKA a written debriefing and alerted NIKA of the right to submit additional questions. NIKA did not submit additional questions. NIKA filed a protest at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) six days after the written debriefing. Under 31 U.S.C. 3553(d), bid protests filed at the GAO invoke an automatic stay of procurement during the pendency of the protest if the federal agency awarding the contract receives notice within five days of debriefing. GAO denied the stay as untimely.NIKA filed suit, citing 10 U.S.C. 2305(b)(5)(B)(vii), which states that “[t]he debriefing shall include . . . an opportunity for a disappointed offeror to submit, within two business days after receiving a post-award debriefing, additional questions related to the debriefing.” The Claims Court instituted the stay. The bid protest concluded and the stay has ended.The Federal Circuit reversed, first holding that the issue was not moot, being capable of repetition but evading review. The text of 31 U.S.C. 3553(d) indicates that when no additional questions are submitted, the “debriefing date” is the date upon which the party receives its debriefing. The five-day period begins on the debriefing date, rather than two days later. Because NIKA did not file at the GAO within the five-day period, it did not timely invoke the stay. View "NIKA Technologies, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Fisk, an LLC formed in 2018, had two members; one is an attorney. Fisk collaborated with the City of DeKalb regarding the redevelopment of a dilapidated property. Under a Development Incentive Agreement, if Fisk met certain contingencies, DeKalb would provide $2,500,000 in Tax Increment Financing. In 2019, Nicklas became the City Manager and opened new inquiries into Fisk’s financial affairs and development plans. Nicklas concluded Fisk did not have the necessary financial capacity or experience, based on specified factors.Fisk's Attorney Member had represented a client in a 2017 state court lawsuit in which Nicklas was a witness. Nicklas considered funding incentives for other development projects with which, Fisk alleged, Nicklas had previous financial and personal ties.The City Council found Fisk’s financial documents “barren of any assurance that the LLC could afford ongoing preliminary planning and engineering fees,” cited “insufficient project details,” and terminated the agreement. Fisk sued Nicklas under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging Nicklas sought to retaliate against Fisk and favor other developers. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the claims. Fisk did not exercise its First Amendment petition right in the 2017 lawsuit. That right ran to the client; Fisk did not yet exist. Fisk had no constitutionally protected property right in the agreement or in the city’s resolution, which did not bind or “substantively limit[]” the city “by mandating a particular result when certain clearly stated criteria are met.” Nicklas had a rational basis for blocking the project, so an Equal Protection claim failed. View "145 Fisk, LLC v. Nicklas" on Justia Law

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The 1936 Randolph-Sheppard Vending Stand Act (RSA), 20 U.S.C. 107(a), authorizes blind persons to operate vending facilities on federal property. The Department of Education prescribes RSA regulations and designates the state agency for issuing RSA licenses. Ohio expands the RSA to state properties. Ohio’s Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired (BSVI) implements the RSA and Ohio-RSA.Cyrus, a blind vendor, has participated in the Ohio RSA program since 1989. Pursuant to Grantor Agreements with Lucas County and the University of Toledo, Cyrus paid $504,000 in commissions to the university and county. In 2014, the Ohio Attorney General issued a formal opinion that conditioning RSA-vending at state-affiliated universities on commission payments was illegal. Cyrus filed a grievance and stopped making payments to the university. BSVI notified the university that the commission requirement "is void.” BSVI denied Cyrus’s grievance and took no action on the county commissions. A state hearing officer denied relief. Cyrus filed an arbitration complaint under the RSA’.An RSA panel found that BSVI breached its duties by requiring commission payments to both locations The Sixth Circuit held that the RSA prohibits commissions, even for facilities on county-owned properties; prospective relief was appropriate. RSA arbitration panels are enough like civil litigation in Article III courts that sovereign immunity applies. Ohio has not waived its immunity from RSA damages awards imposed by federal arbitration panels. The panel, therefore, exceeded its authority in awarding damages and interest. View "Ohio v. United States Department of Education" on Justia Law

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Laron Young appealed summary judgment entered in favor of Burleigh Morton Detention Center (“BMDC”). Young was an inmate at BMDC. Reliance Telephone of Grand Forks, Inc. (“Reliance”) contracted with BMDC to operate its inmate telephone system. Every call that was not listed as “private” within the Reliance system was automatically recorded. It was undisputed that the telephone number for Young’s attorney was not on the list of private numbers and various calls between himself and his attorney were recorded. Young sued BMDC and Reliance arguing his Sixth Amendment right to counsel was violated and that BMDC had not complied with N.D.C.C. 12- 44.1-14(1), which required correctional facilities to ensure inmates have confidential access to their attorneys. The district court dismissed the claims against Reliance for lack of jurisdiction, and granted summary judgment in favor of BMDC, concluding Young had not alleged facts to support a finding that he was prejudiced by the recordings and therefore his right to counsel was not violated. The court also concluded Young had not alleged facts to support a finding that BMDC violated N.D.C.C. 12-44.1-14(1). The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, that to the extent relief might be available for Young’s claim, he did not allege facts to support a finding that BMDC knowingly intruded into the communications he had with his attorney or that prejudice or a substantial threat of prejudice existed. Therefore, the district court did not err when it granted BMDC summary judgment on Young’s Sixth Amendment claim. With respect to Young's statutory claim, the Court found the plain language of the statute did not require correctional facilities to affirmatively identify an inmate's attorney's telephone number as Young argued. Rather, by its own language, N.D.C.C. 12-44.1-14 was “subject to reasonable . . . correctional facility administration requirements.” The Court thus concluded BMDC’s policy allowing inmates or their attorneys to register attorney telephone numbers as confidential numbers not to be monitored did not constitute a violation of N.D.C.C. 12- 44.1-14(1). View "Young v. Burleigh Morton Detention Center, et al." on Justia Law

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The VA sought to procure cable gun locks with information about its suicide prevention line imprinted on the lock body, on a label attached to the cable, and an accompanying wallet card. VA submitted a requisition form to the Government Publishing Office (GPO), which issued an invitation for bids, with unrestricted competition. In a bid protest, the Government Accountability Office found that the Veterans Benefits Act (VBA), 38 U.S.C. 8127(i), applied. VA submitted a revised requisition. VA maintains a database of all verified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs). The GPO’s contracting officer concluded that the GPO was obligated to employ unrestricted competitive bidding without a Rule of Two analysis. The Rule of Two requires that when two or more verified and capable SDVOSBs are identified, the acquisition must be set-aside for SDVOSBs, provided the contracting officer has a reasonable expectation that two or more verified SDVSOBs will submit offers and that the award can be made at a reasonable price. The contracting officer stated that the GPO would “leverage the VA database" to ensure that verified firms received an opportunity to bid.The Claims Court dismissed a pre-award bid protest, reasoning that the solicitation fell within the printing mandate, 44 U.S.C. 501, which requires that governmental "printing, binding, and blank-book work” be done at the GPO; that the VA adequately explained its decision to employ the GPO; and that the VA had met its obligation to secure GPO compliance “to the maximum extent feasible” with the Rule of Two. The Federal Circuit reversed. The printing mandate applies only to the production of written or graphic published materials; the solicitation at issue does not involve “printing.” View "Veterans4You, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law