Justia Government Contracts Opinion Summaries

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Boeing permissibly changed cost accounting practices for its Defense contracts simultaneously. Some changes raised the government's costs; others lowered those costs. The Defense Contract Management Agency, invoking Federal Acquisition Regulation 30.606, determined the amount of the cost-increasing changes and demanded that Boeing pay that amount plus interest. Boeing did so, then sued, asserting that the government, in following FAR 30.606, committed a breach of contract and effected an illegal exaction. Boeing argued that FAR 30.606 is contrary to 41 U.S.C. 1503(b), which requires that simultaneously adopted cost-increasing and cost-lowering accounting changes be considered together and that, by following FAR 30.606’s command to disregard the cost-lowering changes, the government unlawfully charged it too much. The trial court held that Boeing had waived its breach of contract claim by failing to object to FAR 30.606 before entering into the contracts and that it lacked jurisdiction to consider Boeing’s illegal exaction claim, which was not based on a “money-mandating” statute.The Federal Circuit reversed. A pre-award objection by Boeing would have been futile, as the government concededly could not lawfully have declared FAR 30.606 inapplicable in entering into the contract. A contractor is not required to pursue judicial relief before the award to avoid waiver. To establish Tucker Act jurisdiction for an illegal exaction claim, a party that has paid money over to the government and seeks its return must make a non-frivolous allegation that the government, in obtaining the money, has violated the Constitution, a statute, or a regulation. View "Boeing Co. v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Randolph-Sheppard Act, 20 U.S.C. 107, requires government agencies to set aside certain contracts for sight-challenged vendors. States license the vendors and match them with available contracts. In 2010, Michigan denied Armstrong’s bid for a contract to stock vending machines at highway rest stops. A state ALJ ruled in Armstrong’s favor and recommended that she get priority for the next available facility/location. The state awarded Armstrong an available vending route later that year. Armstrong nonetheless requested federal arbitration, seeking nearly $250,000 in damages to account for delays in getting the license. The arbitrators ruled that Armstrong was wrongfully denied the location she sought and ordered Michigan to immediately assign Armstrong the Grayling vending route but declined to award damages, reasoning that her request was “too speculative.”The district court upheld the arbitration award and rejected Armstrong’s 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims, concluding that the Randolph-Sheppard Act created the sole statutory right to relief under federal law. Michigan subsequently granted her the Grayling license. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The unfavorable arbitration decision was not arbitrary or capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act. Armstrong may not sue under 42 U.S.C. 1983 to vindicate her rights under the Randolph-Sheppard Act. View "Armstrong v. Michigan Bureau of Services for Blind Persons" on Justia Law

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In 2003, the government awarded Parsons a $2.1 billion indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract for planning and construction work to be described in subsequent task orders. In 2005, the government issued a $34 million task order to complete an existing, concept-level design and construct the Temporary Lodging Facility and Visiting Quarters, at the McGuire Air Force Base. Design and construction were completed. The Air Force accepted the completed facilities for “beneficial use” in September 2008. In 2012, Parsons submitted a claim for approximately $34 million in additional costs that Parsons allegedly incurred in the design and construction process. The Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals awarded Parsons about $10.5 million plus interest.The Federal Circuit reversed in part after holding that the Board had Contracts Dispute Act jurisdiction 41 U.S.C. 7102(a)(1), (3). The court dismissed Parsons’ appeal as to its payroll claim and reversed the Board’s denial of recovery to Parsons for its claim to construction costs. On remand, the Board must award Parsons the difference between its cost in constructing a substituted design compared to the cost Parsons would have incurred in constructing a structural brick design. The court affirmed the Board’s conclusion that Parsons’ costs awarded by the Board were reasonable. View "Parsons Evergreene, LLC v. Secretary of the Air Force" on Justia Law

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Kozerski owned two construction companies in Detroit. He formed the second one, CA, to bid on Veterans Administration contracts set aside for small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans. Kozerski does not have a service-related disability. He convinced J.R., a service-disabled veteran, to pretend to be the company’s owner. CA handled six contracts. Kozerski forged J.R.’s signature and sent the government emails supposedly from J.R.. For five contracts, Kozerski did not pay J.R. anything, lying to him that CA did not receive any contracts after the first one.The government eventually discovered the scheme and charged Kozerski with wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1343. Kozerski pleaded guilty. The PSR recommended a loss amount of $9.5 million to $25 million, calculated by adding the amounts the government paid CA on all six contracts without crediting the value of the work performed on the contracts: $11,891,243.45, resulting in a Guidelines range of 37-46 months. Kozerski argued the loss should be the amount of profit a qualifying veteran-owned business would receive from the contract, yielding a guidelines range of eight-14 months. The district court adopted Kozerski’s formula and sentenced him to a year and a day. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, upholding the district court’s calculation of the loss as the aggregate difference between Kozerski’s bids and the next-lowest bids, about $250,000. View "United States v. Kozerski" on Justia Law

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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