Justia Government Contracts Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Aerospace/Defense
Agility Public Warehousing Co. KSCP v. Mattis
The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), a sub-agency of the Defense Logistics Agency, issued a solicitation for an Indefinite-Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity commercial item contract to provide food and non-food products to customers, including the military, in three overseas zones. In May 2003, DSCP awarded a contract to Agility to supply “Full Line Food and Non-Food Distribution” to authorized personnel in Kuwait and Qatar. After many modifications, in December 2005, Agility submitted a Request for Equitable Adjustment for $13.1 million related to trucks being held in Iraq by the government for longer than 29 days. In April 2007, the government’s contracting officer denied Agility’s claim. The Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals denied Agility’s appeal in August 2015, finding that Agility had accepted all risks associated with delays beyond 29 days. The Board stated that it “need not decide whether the government constructively changed contract performance or whether it breached its implied duty of cooperation” because “whether the government breached the contract comes down to contract interpretation.” The Federal Circuit affirmed-in-part, agreeing that the government did not breach the express terms of the contract or a later agreement to consider exceptions, but finding that the Board erred when it concluded that it “need not decide” Agility’s implied duty and constructive change claims. View "Agility Public Warehousing Co. KSCP v. Mattis" on Justia Law
Agility Defense & Government Services, Inc. v. United States
Within the Department of Defense, DRMS disposes of surplus military property at Defense Reutilization and Marketing Offices (DRMOs). Property that cannot be reutilized is demilitarized and/or reduced to scrap that can be sold. A 2007 DRMS Request for Proposals sought performance of DRMO activities for up to five years. A referenced website showed DRMS’s historical workload and scrap weight; an amendment indicated that “the contractor may experience significant workload increases or decreases” and outlined a process to “renegotiate the price” if workload increased. DRMS awarded its first contract to Agility to operate six DRMOs for one base year with four option years at a fixed price of $45,233,914.92 per year. Upon commencing work in Arifjan, the largest of the DRMOs, Agility immediately fell behind. It inherited a backlog of approximately 30 weeks. From the start, the volume received at Arifjan was greater than Agility anticipated. The parties terminated their contract for convenience in 2010. Agility thereafter requested funding for its additional costs, claiming DRMS provided inaccurate workload estimates during solicitation. The contracting officer awarded Agility only $236,363.93 for its first claim and nothing for the second, noting that Agility received an offset from its scrap sales. The Federal Circuit reversed, as “clearly erroneous,” the Claims Court’s findings that DRMS did not inadequately or negligently prepare its estimates and that Agility did not rely on those estimates. Agility’s receipt of scrap sales and the parties’ agreement did not preclude recovery. View "Agility Defense & Government Services, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law
Kase v. Metalclad Insulation Corp.
Kase was exposed to asbestos insulation used on nuclear submarines during the early 1970s. The trial court rejected claims against a broker that arranged for asbestos-containing insulation to be shipped to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, where workers packed it around the submarine piping it protected. The court held, on summary judgment, that the Navy‘s procurement of asbestos insulation for its nuclear submarines implicated the government contractor defense set forth in the Supreme Court’s 1988 holding, Boyle v. United Technologies Corp. The broker procured the insulation pursuant to and in compliance with relatively detailed performance and testing specifications, although those specifications did not expressly call out for asbestos in the insulation. According to undisputed evidence, the specifications could only be met by asbestos-containing insulation, and the only product on the Navy‘s approved list of suitable products was the product at issue, Unibestos. The court of appeal affirmed, stating that the defense does not necessarily exclude the procurement of products also sold commercially. The Navy‘s procurement of the asbestos insulation at issue occurred after years of evaluating and weighing the utility of and the health hazards associated with asbestos products and pursuant to specifications that required an asbestos product. View "Kase v. Metalclad Insulation Corp." on Justia Law
Papp v. Fore-Kast Sales Co Inc
Papp alleged that his late wife suffered secondary “take home” asbestos exposure while washing the work clothes of her first husband, Keck. Keck had several jobs that exposed him to asbestos. Papp sued multiple companies in New Jersey. In a deposition, he indicated that the landing gear Keck sandblasted was for a C-47 military cargo plane, built by Boeing’s predecessor. Boeing removed the case, citing the federal officer removal statute, 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1). Boeing asserted that it was entitled to government contractor immunity because the C-47 was produced for, and under the specific supervision of, the U.S. military and that the supervision extended to labels and warnings for all parts of the aircraft, including those parts laden with the asbestos to which Keck would later be exposed. The district court remanded, reasoning that Boeing, as a contractor and not a federal officer, had a “special burden” to demonstrate “that a federal officer or agency directly prohibited Boeing from issuing, or otherwise providing, warnings as to the risks associated with exposure to asbestos contained in products on which third-parties … worked or otherwise provided services.” The Third Circuit reversed, holding that the statute extends to contractors who possess a colorable federal defense and that Boeing made a sufficient showing of such a defense. View "Papp v. Fore-Kast Sales Co Inc" on Justia Law
Zafer Taahhut Insaat v. United States
Zafer, an Ankara, Turkey, contractor, and the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) entered into a firm-fixed-price contract to construct the MILCON Support Facility at the Bagram Air Force Field in Afghanistan. Zafer was responsible for delivering materials to the site, and assumed the risk “for all costs and resulting loss or profit.” After issuing notice to proceed, USACE recognized that it could not make the project site available immediately and increased the contract price and set a new completion date. In November 2011, Pakistan closed its border from the seaport city of Karachi along the land routes into Afghanistan in response to a combat incident with the U.S. and NATO. The route remained closed for 219 days, Zafer notified USACE that the closure would greatly impact its delivery of materials and requested direction on how to proceed. USACE replied that the closure was “purely the act of Pakistan governmental authorities,” that the U.S. government was “not responsible” and denied further compensation. Zafer subsequently, repeatedly, asked for payment for additional costs. In 2013, Zafer submitted an unsuccessful request for an equitable adjustment. The contracting officer found no evidence supporting a constructive change claim. The Claims Court granted USACE summary judgment. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Zafer failed to designate specific facts to establish a constructive change claim based on either a constructive acceleration theory or on a government fault theory. View "Zafer Taahhut Insaat v. United States" on Justia Law
Marshall v. Woodward, Inc.
Plaintiffs, Woodward employees, filed a qui tam action under the False Claims Act, alleging that Woodward falsely certified helicopter engine parts that it sold to the government. Plaintiffs had complained that the sensors at issue did not meet quality standards and had refused to work on the order. Following an investigation, a Defense Contract Management Agency Technical Specialist concluded that there was “nothing either incorrect or wrong with the procedures, assembly, or testing of the sensors.” The government continues to order, pay for, and use Woodward’s sensor The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Woodward, agreeing that even if Woodward made false statements to the government, no reasonable jury could find that it made the statements knowingly or that the statements were material. View "Marshall v. Woodward, Inc." on Justia Law
Raytheon Co. v. United States
The U.S. Air Force solicited bids from private companies to supply equipment and services to build a new radar system. Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin cleared early hurdles; each received a solicitation for proposals for Engineering and Manufacturing Development. The Air Force subsequently sent Evaluation Notices to Raytheon and Northrop that “contractors would not be permitted to use IR & D costs to reduce their costs of performing . . . if those costs were implicitly or explicitly required for contract performance.” Raytheon objected; Northrop did not.. The Air Force then changed its view and accepted Raytheon’s treatment of certain costs as IR & D costs, but never communicated its new view to Northrop. In final proposals, Raytheon proposed IR & D cost reductions, whereas Northrop did not. The Air Force awarded the contract to Raytheon. Northrop and Lockheed filed protests with the Government Accountability Office (31 U.S.C. 3551). In response, the Air Force “decided to take corrective action” and to reopen discussions. Raytheon filed a protest under 28 U.S.C. 1491(b) to challenge the decision to take corrective action. The Federal Circuit affirmed denial of the protest, concluding that the reopening decision was proper based on the disparate-information violation. View "Raytheon Co. v. United States" on Justia Law
Astornet Techs., Inc. v. BAE Sys., Inc.
Astornet alleges that it is sole exclusive licensee and owner of all rights in the 844 patent, issued in 2009 to Haddad as the inventor and entitled “Airport vehicular gate entry access system” and asserted the patent against NCR, MorphoTrust USA, and BAE Astornet alleged that the three had contracts with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to supply boarding-pass scanning systems; that TSA’s use of the equipment infringed and would infringe the patent; and that NCR and MorphoTrust were bidding for another contract to supply modified equipment whose use by TSA would also infringe. The Federal Circuit affirmed dismissal, finding that Astornet’s exclusive remedy for the alleged infringement was a suit against the government in the Court of Federal Claims under 28 U.S.C. 1498. View "Astornet Techs., Inc. v. BAE Sys., Inc." on Justia Law
United States v. United Techs. Corp.
In 1983, Pratt & Whitney made false statements to the Air Force while competing with GE to supply fighter jet engines. Pratt did not obtain more business and the fraud was discovered. The government filed a 1998 action before the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals seeking relief under the Truth in Negotiations Act, and a 1999 federal court action, seeking relief under the False Claims Act and common law restitution. The government lost the administrative action. While Pratt’s statements violated the truth-in-negotiation requirements, the Board refused to lower the price of the contracts retroactively (the remedy permitted by the Act) because the Air Force had relied on the competitive bids, not the 1983 false statements, in determining a reasonable price for the contracts. The Federal Circuit affirmed. After it was established that Pratt violated the False Claims Act and that it owed the government $7 million in statutory penalties, the case was remanded for damages calculation. The district court awarded $657 million. The Sixth Circuit remanded again, noting that the matter has been in litigation for 17 years. The award was not supported by the evidence given the government expert’s refusal to account for the competition between the companies in setting a fair market value for the engines. View "United States v. United Techs. Corp." on Justia Law
Shell Oil Co. v. United States
Following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, each of the Oil Companies entered into contracts with the government to provide high-octane aviation gas (avgas) to fuel military aircraft. The production of avgas resulted in waste products such as spent alkylation acid and “acid sludge.” The Oil Companies contracted to have McColl, a former Shell engineer, dump the waste at property in Fullerton, California. More than 50 years later, California and the federal government obtained compensation from the Oil Companies under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. 9601, for the cost of cleaning up the McColl site. The Oil Companies sued, arguing the avgas contracts require the government to indemnify them for the CERCLA costs. The Court of Federal Claims granted summary judgment in favor of the government. The Federal Circuit reversed with respect to breach of contract liability and remanded. As a concession to the Oil Companies, the avgas contracts required the government to reimburse the Oil Companies for their “charges.” The court particularly noted the immense regulatory power the government had over natural resources during the war and the low profit margin on the avgas contracts. View "Shell Oil Co. v. United States" on Justia Law