Justia Government Contracts Opinion Summaries

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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

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Ammons and Riley sued Wisconsin Central under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C. 51, for injuries they sustained when the train they were operating struck another train. Both alleged Wisconsin Central was negligent in violating various rules and regulations, which resulted in their injuries. Wisconsin Central alleged that plaintiffs failed to exercise ordinary care and that multiple locomotives, railroad cars, track, and track structures sustained significant damage, which caused it to spend significant amounts of money to repair, perform environmental cleanup and remediation, and incur other incidental and consequential damages. Wisconsin Central sought damages in excess of $1 million. Section 55 of the FELA prohibits “[a]ny contract, rule, regulation, or device whatsoever, the purpose or intent of which shall be to enable any common carrier to exempt itself from liability.” Section 60 prohibits “[a]ny contract, rule, regulation, or device whatsoever, the purpose, intent, or effect of which shall be to prevent employees of any common carrier from furnishing voluntarily information to a person in interest as to the facts incident to the injury or death of any employee.” Plaintiffs argued that Wisconsin Central’s counterclaims constituted a “device” designed to exempt itself from liability to pay damages to injured employees, to deter railroad employees from providing information regarding injury or death of an employee, or both. The Illinois Supreme Court held that the counterclaim was not prohibited, citing the employer’s long-standing right to sue its employees for negligence, the statute's plain language, and federal court decisions. Unlike a contractual agreement or a release, a counterclaim does not extinguish a plaintiff’s FELA cause of action or exempt the railroad employer from liability. View "Ammons v. Canadian National Railway Co." on Justia Law

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After Mount Diablo School District hired Taber to modernize eight school campuses, the plaintiffs challenged the District’s use of a lease-leaseback agreement for the construction project. The court of appeal affirmed the dismissal of most of plaintiff’s claims, except a claim against Taber of conflict of interest. Plaintiff alleged Taber provided preconstruction services regarding the project, so a conflict of interest arose when the District subsequently awarded Taber the contract. The court of appeal affirmed summary judgment in Taber’s favor, finding no violation of Government Code section 1090(a). Section 1090 only prohibits a contract made by a financially-interested party when that party makes the contract in an “official capacity.” Where the financially-interested party is an independent contractor, section 1090 applies only if the independent contractor can be said to have been entrusted with “transact[ing] on behalf of the Government.” In this case, it cannot reasonably be said that Taber was hired to engage in or advise on public contracting on behalf of the District. The District contracted with Taber for Taber to provide preconstruction services in anticipation of Taber completing the project. Taber provided those services (planning and setting specifications) in its capacity as the intended provider of services, not as a de facto official of the District. View "California Taxpayers Action Network v. Taber Construction, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 1980, Langkamp, then a toddler, suffered severe burn injuries on U.S. Army property. In a suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act, the parties entered into a Settlement Agreement. The government agreed to pay $239,425.45 upfront to cover attorney fees and costs, plus a structured settlement: $350.00 per month, 1985-1996; $3,100.00 per month, guaranteed for 15 years, beginning in 1996, and Lump Sum Payments of $15,000.00 in 1996, $50,000.00 in 2000, $100,000.00 in 2008, 250,000.00 in 2018, and $1,000,000.00 in 2028. The government issued a check for $239,425.45 to the parents and a check for $160,574.55 payable to JMW Settlements, an annuity broker. JMW purchased two single-premium annuity policies from ELNY to fund the monthly and periodic lump-sum payments. Until 2013, ELNY sent Langkamp the specified monthly and periodic lump-sum payments. Following ELNY’s insolvency and court-approved restructuring, Langkamp’s structured settlement payments were reduced to 40 percent of the original amount. The Claims Court rejected Langkamp’s argument that the government had continuing liability for the Settlement Agreement payments. The Federal Circuit reversed. The Settlement Agreement contains no reference to the purchase of an annuity from a third party but unambiguously obligates the government to ensure that all future monthly and periodic lump-sum payments are properly disbursed. The court noted that in 1984 it cost the government approximately $160,000 to obtain a promise from an insurance company to fund the future payments specified in the Settlement Agreement. View "Langkamp v. United States" on Justia Law

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This appeal involved an effort to "foist" the pension and retiree healthcare costs for city employees who performed redevelopment-related work onto the successor agency to the now-abolished Anaheim Redevelopment Agency (Anaheim RDA). Plaintiff City of Anaheim, in its own right and as the successor agency to the Anaheim RDA, and John Woodhead, who worked for both entities, brought this 2017 petition for a writ of mandate. The petition sought to overturn the determination that an agreement between the City of Anaheim and the Anaheim RDA to reimburse the City of Anaheim for the retirement costs of its employees who worked for the Anaheim RDA was not an enforceable obligation of the Anaheim RDA, and thus payments to the City of Anaheim for this purpose from the successor agency were not permissible. As defendants, the petition identified the director of the Department of Finance, Keely Bosler, in her official capacity; the Department of Finance (a redundant defendant); the auditor-controller for Orange County (a neutral stakeholder); and the oversight board that supervised the operations of the successor agency. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the Department, "after issuing a lengthy and cogent ruling." On appeal, petitioners reiterated their claims, which focused on their interpretation of what was a “legally enforceable” required payment from the Anaheim RDA, the purported unconstitutional impairment of contractual rights, and estoppel. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "City of Anaheim v. Bosler" on Justia Law

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The Federal Acquisition Regulation permits contractors such as Northrop to seek reimbursement from the federal government for “allowable” post-retirement benefit (PRB) costs. The Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals found that the government improperly disallowed certain retirement benefits costs that Northrop asserted. Certain retirement benefit costs were unallowable under the applicable regulations because they were calculated using an improper accounting method but Northrop never claimed and will never claim any of the disputed benefits. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Substantial evidence supported the Board’s factual findings that the unallowable costs were not charged to the government by virtue of being excluded from Northrop’s transition obligation by Northrop’s negative amendment to its PRB plans. The factual findings are, therefore “final and conclusive,” 41 U.S.C. 7107 (2012). The government’s disallowance of the disputed $253,361,512 of Northrop’s PRB costs was improper. View "Secretary of Defense v. Northrop Grumman Corp." on Justia Law

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In this antitrust action alleging that Defendant, a quasi-public agency, engaged in a sham competitive bidding procedure and awarded a contract to a preselected entity for corrupt reasons and in violation of a competitive bidding statute, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in favor of Defendant, holding that Plaintiff, a public affairs firm, lacked standing to bring the action. Defendant, an agency responsible for providing solid waste disposal and recycling services to municipalities in the state, issued a request for proposals for the provision of municipal government liaison services. Plaintiff submitted a proposal, but Defendant awarded the liaison services contract to a law firm, whose proposal was noncompliant. Plaintiff later brought this action. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss and a motion to strike. The trial court granted the motion to strike and rendered judgment for Defendant. The Supreme Court vacated the grant of the motion to strike, holding that the trial court improperly denied Defendant's motion to dismiss because Plaintiff lacked standing to bring this action where it did not adequately allege an anti-trust injury. The Court remanded the matter to the trial court to grant Defendant's motion to dismiss. View "Tremont Public Advisors, LLC v. Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority" on Justia Law