Justia Government Contracts Opinion Summaries

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U.S. Venture, Inc. (“Venture”) appealed a Commonwealth Court decision affirming the determination of the Pennsylvania Board of Claims (“Board”) that its dispute with the Commonwealth involving two grant agreements was not within the subject matter jurisdiction of the Board and that its claim was barred by sovereign immunity. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that any ambiguity within the relevant statutory provisions had to be resolved in favor of preserving sovereign immunity. Alternatively, the Court found these written grant agreements were in fact “grants,” which were not subject to the limited waiver of sovereign immunity. View "U.S. Venture Inc. v. Dep of Comm & Econo Dev" on Justia Law

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Kennedy worked for Novo, promoting a new diabetes drug, Victoza. FDA approval of Victoza included specific conditions concerning a possible risk of thyroid cancer. According to Kennedy, in preparation for Victoza’s commercial launch, she was directed to market the drug in ways inconsistent with those FDA limitations. Kennedy filed a False Claims Act (FCA) complaint, alleging that Novo caused people to submit millions of dollars in false claims for payment under federal health care programs. Several such cases were consolidated in the District of Columbia. The government intervened. Novo, the government, and Kennedy reached a settlement for $46.5 million.The government filed a separate complaint against Novo, under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), 21 U.S.C. 301, alleging Victoza was an unlawfully “misbranded” drug. In the FDCA Settlement, Novo admitted that it had trained its employees to undermine the risks and agreed to pay the government $12,150,000. Kennedy was not a party to the FDCA litigation.Kennedy sought a share of the FDCA Settlement, arguing that it was an “alternate remedy” under the FCA, 31 U.S.C. 3730(c)(5). The D.C. Circuit reversed Kennedy’s award. The FCA confines qui tam plaintiffs to recoveries only for claims seeking relief based on fraud or falsehoods covered by that statute. The government’s separate FDCA enforcement action did not involve the type of claim cognizable under the FCA, nor did it allege a false or fraudulent effort to obtain money or property from the government. Kennedy received an agreed-upon FCA payment with knowledge of the separate action and is not entitled to further recovery. View "Kennedy v. Novo A/S" on Justia Law

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ICE issued a solicitation for the provision of detention, food, and transportation at its Florence Detention Center. Asset was the incumbent contractor. ICE responded "yes" to, “Arizona charges 4.5% ‘business tax’; will the Federal Government issue a tax exemption certificate to the successful offeror?” Asset’s initial proposal indicated that “[s]ales taxes were not charged” based on that answer. ICE selected Akima's proposal. Asset filed a bid protest. ICE took voluntary corrective action and issued Amendment 17; Amendment 19 subsequently clarified that ICE “CANNOT delegate its tax-exempt status” and instructed that offerors review their proposals and provide their best and final prices. Asset responded that it had reviewed Amendment 19 and that its proposal did not require revision but did not remove the tax-exempt language from its proposal. ICE again clarified the tax-exempt status question via Amendment 20. Asset again responded that it did not need to amend its proposal but the tax-exempt certificate language remained. ICE ultimately selected Akima, concluding that Asset was ineligible for the award because the tax-exempt certificate language rendered its proposal a contingent price. Asset filed another bid protest, disputing ICE’s best-value analysis. The GAO agreed that ICE improperly determined that Asset’s bid contained contingency pricing but concluded that Asset “was not prejudiced” because ICE’s best-value analysis was “reasonable,”The Claims Court concluded that Asset lacked standing to bring the bid protest. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Asset’s proposal was non-responsive to the requirements of the Solicitation, as explicitly amended, making it ineligible for the award. View "Asset Protection and Security Services, L.P. v. United States" on Justia Law

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In 2002, Farfield contracted with SEPTA for improvements on Philadelphia-area railroad tracks. The federal government partially funded the project. Work concluded in 2007. As required by federal regulation, Department of Labor (DOL) prevailing wage determinations were incorporated into the contract. Farfield was required to submit to SEPTA for transmission to the Federal Transit Administration a copy of Farfield’s certified payroll, setting out all the information required under the Davis-Bacon Act, 40 U.S.C. 3142(a), with a “Statement of Compliance” averring that the information in the payroll was correct and complete and that each worker was paid not less than the applicable wage rates and benefits for the classification of work performed, as specified in the applicable wage determination. Falsification of a payroll certification could subject Farfield to criminal penalties or civil liability under the False Claims Act (FCA).A union business manager suspected that Farfield had won government contracts with low bids by intending to pay less-skilled workers to perform certain work that would otherwise have been the bailiwick of higher-skilled, higher-paid workers. Ultimately, the union filed a qui tam FCA complaint. The United States declined to intervene. The court entered a $1,055,320.62 judgment against Farfield: $738,724.43 to the government and $316,596.19 to the union, plus $1,229,927.55 in attorney fees and $203,226.45 in costs. The Third Circuit affirmed. In view of the totality of the circumstances, Farfield’s Davis-Bacon violations were not minor or insubstantial. View "International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers v. Farfield Co" on Justia Law

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The city of Puyallup (City) hired Conway Construction Company to build a road. The contract allowed the City to terminate the contract early either for its convenience or on Conway’s default, but a termination for convenience would result in more costs for the City. The City ended up terminating the contract partway through construction, claiming Conway defaulted. After a lengthy bench trial, the trial court concluded that Conway was not in default when the City terminated the contract and converted the termination into one for convenience. After review, the Washington Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s decision. Further, the Court held that the City was not entitled to an offset for any defective work discovered after termination because the City did not provide Conway with the contractually required notice and opportunity to cure. View "Conway Constr. Co. v. City of Puyallup" on Justia Law

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AGRED filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment regarding its rights and obligations under a written agreement with the United States. The Corps, acting on behalf of the United States, moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the grounds that AGRED lacks standing.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of AGRED's declaratory judgment claim based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction and agreed with the district court that AGRED's injury was not caused by the Corps. In this case, AGRED failed to establish a connection between its injury of being enjoined from charging fees for access a lake plaintiff owns and the Corps' conduct. The court explained that there are several kinks in AGRED's causal chain, including that AGRED's injury results directly from FOLEA's thus far successful lawsuit. In this case, there is no real contractual dispute between AGRED and the Corps. Therefore, AGRED fails to meet the causation requirement for standing because it cannot show that its injury is fairly traceable to the Corps. View "Agred Foundation v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers" on Justia Law

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Cimino, a former IBM senior sales representative, filed a qui tam action, alleging that IBM violated the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729(a)(1)(A), by fraudulently inducing the IRS to enter a $265 million license agreement for “unwanted, unneeded” software. IBM allegedly devised a scheme to pressure the IRS into a long-term renewal deal by conducting an audit, anticipating that the IRS was overusing the software and therefore would owe significant compliance penalties. IBM would then offer to waive penalties in exchange for a new agreement. Contrary to IBM’s expectations, Deloitte’s initial audit showed the IRS was not significantly overusing the licenses. IBM never released these audit results to the IRS but worked with Deloitte to manipulate the results. Deloitte eventually presented the IRS with a false audit. Once the new agreement was in place, IBM allegedly charged an $87 million fee for prospective licenses and support, which “were, upon information and belief, never actually provided.”After a four-year investigation, the government declined to intervene in the qui tam case. The district court dismissed Cimino’s complaint. The D.C. Circuit reversed in part. In light of Supreme Court precedents interpreting the FCA to incorporate the common law, but-for causation is necessary to establish a fraudulent inducement claim. Cimino plausibly pleaded causation, as well as materiality. The court affirmed the dismissal of Cimino’s presentment claims because he failed to plead them with the requisite particularity. View "Cimino v. International Business Machines Corp." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Couvillion in a declaratory judgment action brought by Taylor, seeking tort damages and equitable relief for Couvillion's trespass and unauthorized activities at the MC20 Site. The court concluded that Couvillion was entitled to immunity under Yearsley v. W.A. Ross Construction Company, 309 U.S. 18 (1940), where there was no genuine fact dispute as to whether Couvillion's actions were authorized and directed by the government, and where Couvillion's authority to carry out its actions was validly conferred by Congress. View "Taylor Energy Company, LLC v. Couvillion Group, LLC" on Justia Law

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Rite Aid’s “Rx Savings Program” provides generic prescription drugs at reduced prices. The program is free and widely available but excludes customers whose prescriptions are paid by publicly funded healthcare programs like Medicare or Medicaid. Federal regulations require pharmacies to dispense prescriptions for beneficiaries of those programs at their “usual and customary charge to the general public” (U&C rate). Rahimi alleged that Rite Aid overbilled the government programs because the amounts it charged did not take into account the lower Rx Savings Program prices. Rahimi claimed Rite Aid's submission of bills for those covered by publicly funded health insurance, representing the price to be the U&C rate, violated the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729(a).The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Rahimi’s claim. The Act’s public disclosure bar precludes qui tam actions that merely feed off prior public disclosures of fraud. From the beginning, communications about the Rx Savings Program have stated that publicly funded health care programs were ineligible for the discounted prices. Before Rahimi’s disclosures, Connecticut investigated membership discount prices; the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it would review Medicaid claims for generic drugs to determine the extent to which large chain pharmacies are billing Medicaid the usual and customary charges for drugs provided under their retail discount generic programs; and a qui tam action was unsealed in California, describing an identical scheme. View "Rahimi v. Rite Aid Corp." on Justia Law

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Companies that tow or recycle used cars alleged that Milwaukee and its subcontractor, engaged in anticompetitive behavior to self-allocate towing services and abandoned vehicles, a primary input in the scrap metal recycling business. They alleged that an exclusive contract the city entered into with one of the area’s largest recycling providers, Miller Compressing, violated the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1, and that the contract provided direct evidence of an agreement to restrain trade. They cited laws that require a city-issued license to tow vehicles from certain areas, that obligate towing companies to provide various notices, and that cap maximum charges imposed on vehicle owners who have illegally parked or abandoned their vehicles, as having been enacted to squeeze them out of the market.The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. The arrangement between the city and Miller is not per se unreasonable on the basis of horizontal price-fixing. The court also rejected a claim of “bid-rigging.” View "Always Towing & Recovery Inc. v. City of Milwaukee" on Justia Law