Justia Government Contracts Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiffs, employees of civilian and military contractors who used Combat Arms Version 2 earplugs, filed separate suits against 3M in Minnesota state court, asserting failure-to-warn claims under state law. After removal to federal court, the district court granted plaintiffs' motions to remand the cases to state court for lack of federal jurisdiction, concluding that 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1) was not a basis for removal.Reviewing de novo, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the remand orders in the Graves and Hall actions, whose members acquired commercial earplugs. The court concluded that 3M failed to establish it was "acting under" a federal officer or agency in developing and disseminating warnings and instructions for its commercial earplugs. However, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part the remand orders in the Copeland cases and remanded for further proceedings. The court concluded that 3M has a colorable federal contractor defense for claims made by Copeland plaintiffs who acquired earplugs through the military, and has satisfied the other elements required for section 1442(a)(1) removal as to these plaintiffs. Therefore, the district court's remand orders are reversed as to this group, whose members will need to be determined on remand. View "Graves v. 3M Company" on Justia Law

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EC contracted to repair the Navy ships Thunderbolt, Tempest, and Hurricane. The Navy claimed $474,600 in liquidated damages under the Tempest contract because of late delivery. Having already paid for the Tempest work, it withheld $473,600 under the Hurricane contract. EC claimed the Navy caused the delay and, after the contracting officer denied its claim, sued under the Tempest contract, referring specifically to the $473,600 setoff. While the litigation proceeded, EC sought additional compensation under the Hurricane contract for unexpected work on that ship and appealed to the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, seeking payment of the $473,600 “withheld from payments due under [the Hurricane] contract.”The parties settled the Tempest suit: EC released the government “from any and all actions, claims, . . . and liabilities of any type, whether known or unknown, suspected or unsuspected, foreseen or unforeseen, or open or hidden, which have existed, presently exist, or may exist in the future, arising out of or in any way relating to the [Tempest] Contract.” The government released EC from “any and all” claims “arising out of or in any way relating to the issues that were raised ... or could have been raised in the pleadings.”In 2019, EC asserted a right to the same $473,600 in a third request to the contracting officer, then filed suit. The Fourth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the government. The settlement agreement barred EC’s claims. View "East Coast Repair & Fabrication, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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Owsley. a nurse for Care Connection, a company providing home healthcare to Medicare patients, alleged that she observed, firsthand, documents showing that her employer had used fraudulent data from Fazzi to submit inflated claims for payment to the federal and Indiana state governments. She sued both companies under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729(a)(1)(A), (B), (C), (G), and an Indiana statute.The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. Owsley’s complaint provided few details that would allow the defendants to identify any specific claims—of the hundreds or likely thousands they presumably submitted—that she thinks were fraudulent, and did not meet the requirements of Civil Rule 9(b). While Owsley’s allegations describe, in detail, a fraudulent scheme: Fazzi fraudulently upcoded patient data, which Care then used to submit inflated requests for anticipated Medicare payments, that information does not amount to an allegation of “particular identified claims” submitted pursuant to the fraudulent scheme. View "Owsley v. Fazzi Associates., Inc." on Justia Law

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California AB 32 phases out private detention facilities within the state. Because of fluctuations in immigration, ICE relies exclusively on private detention centers in California. AB 32 carves out exceptions for the state’s private detention centers. The United States and GEO, which operates private immigration detention centers, sued. The district court ruled largely in favor of California.The Ninth Circuit reversed. California is not simply exercising its traditional police powers, but rather impeding federal immigration policy. . Under the Supremacy Clause, state law must fall if it stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress. The presumption against preemption does not apply to areas of exclusive federal regulation, such as the detention of immigrants. California did more than just exercise its traditional state police powers – it impeded the federal government’s immigration policy. Congress granted the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security broad discretion over immigrant detention, including the right to contract with private companies to operate detention facilities. AB 32 also discriminated against the federal government in violation of the intergovernmental immunity doctrine by requiring the federal government to close all its detention facilities, while not requiring California to close any of its private detention facilities until 2028. View "GEO Group, Inc., v. Newsom" on Justia Law

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Triple Canopy, a private security company, had six fixed-price contracts for security services in Afghanistan, awarded by the Department of Defense. Each contract required that Triple Canopy comply with local law and incorporated Federal Acquisition Regulation 52.229-6, which states: [T]he contract price shall be increased by the amount of any after-imposed tax or of any tax or duty … if the Contractor states in writing that the contract price does not include any contingency for such tax and if liability for such tax, interest, or penalty was not incurred through the Contractor’s fault, negligence, or failure to follow instructions of the Contracting Officer or to ... take all reasonable action to obtain exemption." After repeatedly seeking exemptions, Triple Canopy paid a penalty ($430,994.97) that the Afghan government imposed based on the company having more than 500 employees.Within six years of making payment, Triple Canopy submitted claims. The Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals denied the claims as untimely, 41 U.S.C. 7103(a)(4)(A).The Federal Circuit reversed. Triple Canopy’s claims did not accrue until July 6, 2011, when the Afghan government responded to Triple Canopy’s April 8, 2011 appeal. Triple Canopy’s June 6, 2017 claim submission was within the six-year limitations period Triple Canopy had to comply with the requirement that it “take all reasonable action” to obtain “exemption” from the assessment, which meant appealing the assessment. View "Triple Canopy, Inc. v. Secretary of the Air Force" on Justia Law

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Miller, an assistant city attorney, advised the City of Eugene not to renew contracts with DePaul, a qualified nonprofit agency for individuals with disabilities (QRF) under an Oregon law that requires cities to contract with QRFs in certain circumstances. DePaul sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that it held a clearly established constitutionally protected property interest in two 12-month security-service contracts. In 2016, Eugene had decided to modify its security services by requiring that the security service employees be armed and decided not to renew the contracts.The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court and held that Miller was entitled to qualified immunity. No court has considered DePaul’s novel argument that the Oregon QRF statute created a protected property interest in city contracts. Nor does the QRF statute on its face definitively resolve that question. DePaul did not provide any precedent addressing Oregon’s QRF statute or anything closely related. There was no precedent clear enough that every reasonable official would interpret the QRF statute as creating a protected property interest in DePaul’s annual contracts. There was also no precedent considering whether the QRF statute allows the city to end a contract if it seeks new services, such as armed security. View "DePaul Industries v. Miller" on Justia Law

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In a case of first impression, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted review to determine whether the Commonwealth Court properly calculated the “cost” of steel products under the Steel Products Procurement Act (“Steel Act” or “the Act”), which required that “75% of the cost of the articles, materials and supplies [of a steel product] have been mined, produced or manufactured” in the United States. G. M. McCrossin, Inc. (“McCrossin”), a contracting and construction management firm, served as the general contractor for the Lycoming County Water and Sewer Authority (“Authority”) on a project known as the Montoursville Regional Sewer System Waste Water Treatment Plan, Phase I Upgrade (“Project”). In July 2011, McCrossin entered into an agreement with the Authority to supply eight air blower assemblies, which move air from one area to another inside the waste treatment facility. United Blower, Inc. (“UBI”), became a subcontractor on the Project. UBI was to supply the eight blowers required by the original specifications and was to replace the three digestive blowers as required by a change order. UBI prepared a submittal for the blowers which McCrossin in turn submitted to the Authority’s Project engineer, Brinjac Engineering (“Brinjac”). As part of the submittal, McCrossin provided Brinjac and the Authority with a form, which verified that 75% of the cost of the blowers was attributable to articles, materials, and supplies (“AMSs”) that were mined, produced, or manufactured in the United States. The total amount McCrossin paid UBI for the blower assemblies and digestive blowers was $239,800. The amount paid by the Authority to McCrossin for these items was $243,505. Authority employees began to question whether McCrossin and UBI provided products that complied with the Steel Act. The Supreme Court held the Commonwealth Court improperly calculated the cost of the steel products at issue, thereby reversing and remanding for further proceedings. View "United Blower, et al. v Lycoming Water & Sewer" on Justia Law

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Joliet condemned a housing complex managed by New West and paid $15 million. HUD rent subsidies for low-income tenants provided almost all of the money for operating the development. A $2.7 million fund had been established by New West and HUD, to cover necessary maintenance and repairs in the event of a default by New West. HUD refused to release that account to New West, contending that it now holds the account to cover Joliet’s obligations.The Seventh Circuit affirmed the summary judgment rejection of New West’s suit to recover the account. New West cannot establish conversion of the fund without first establishing ownership. HUD’s lien on the fund does not establish ownership of the fund and New West has not established its ownership by showing that it treated deposits into the fund as taxable income. View "New West, L.P. v. Fudge" on Justia Law

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In 2012, then-Governor Cuomo launched the "Buffalo Billion” initiative to develop the greater Buffalo area through the investment of $1 billion in taxpayer funds. A big-rigging scheme ensued with respect to state-funded projects. Four defendants were convicted of various counts of conspiracy to engage in wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1349, wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1343, and making false statements to federal officers, 18 U.S.C. 1001(a)(2).The Second Circuit affirmed, rejecting challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence with respect to the charged wire fraud conspiracies, the instructions to the jury regarding the right-to-control theory of wire fraud and the good faith defense, the preclusion of evidence regarding the success of the projects awarded to defendants through the rigged bidding system and the admission of evidence from competitors regarding the range of fees typically charged by other companies in the market, and the district court's denial of a motion to dismiss Gerardi's false statement charge for alleged prosecutorial misconduct. Evidence of actual economic harm is not necessary for conviction in "right-to-control" cases, which require "a showing that the defendant, through the withholding or inaccurate reporting of information that could impact on economic decisions, deprived some person or entity of potentially valuable economic information." View "United States v. Percoco et al." on Justia Law

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Between 2010 and 2015, pursuant to a contract with the Vermont Department of Corrections (DOC), Wellpath, LLC assumed responsibility for providing medical care to every person in state custody within Vermont. Pursuant to the Vermont’s Public Records Act (PRA), plaintiff Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) requested from Wellpath any records relating to legal actions and settlements arising from this care. Wellpath declined to furnish the requested records, arguing that, as a private contractor, it was not subject to the PRA’s disclosure requirements. HRDC brought the instant suit, and the trial court entered judgment for Wellpath. The Vermont Supreme Court found the language of the PRA was unambiguous: "where the state contracts with a private entity to discharge the entirety of a fundamental and uniquely governmental obligation owed to its citizens, that entity acts as an 'instrumentality' of the State. ... But because here, for five years, Wellpath was the sole means through which the constitutional imperative that the DOC provide healthcare to those it incarcerates was carried out, Wellpath became an 'instrumentality' of the state, and was thus subject to the disclosure obligations of the PRA." Judgment was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Human Rights Defense Center v. Correct Care Solutions, LLC et al." on Justia Law