Justia Government Contracts Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Class Action
City of Fort Smith v. Merriott
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying the City of Fort Smith's motion to compel class notice on Plaintiff's claims alleging illegal exaction and unjust enrichment against on the ground that the City waived notice by moving for summary judgment prior to class certification and notice, holding that the circuit court erroneously interpreted National Enterprises, Inc. v. Kessler, 213 S.W.3d 597 (Ark. 2005).Plaintiff alleged that the City misused public funds from the City's curbside residential recycling program. Twelve days after her complaint was filed Plaintiff moved for class certification. The City responded to the class certification motion and, separately, moved for summary judgment. The circuit court then certified the same class for both claims and, three months later, denied the City's motion for summary judgment. The City later filed its motion to compel class notice. The circuit court held that, under Kessler, the timing of the City's motion for summary judgment waived notice even though the motion was ultimately successful. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court's decision was premised on an erroneous interpretation of the Supreme Court's decision in Kessler. View "City of Fort Smith v. Merriott" on Justia Law
Two Shields v. United States
Under the 1887 General Allotment Act and the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act, the U.S. is the trustee of Indian allotment land. A 1996 class action, filed on behalf of 300,000 Native Americans, alleged that the government had mismanaged their Individual Indian Money accounts by failing to account for billions of dollars from leases for oil extractions and logging. The litigation’s 2011 settlement provided for “historical accounting claims,” tied to that mismanagement, and “land administration claims” for individuals that held, on September 30, 2009, an ownership interest in land held in trust or restricted status, claiming breach of trust and fiduciary mismanagement of land, oil, natural gas, mineral, timber, grazing, water and other resources. Members of the land administration class who failed to opt out were deemed to have waived any claims within the scope of the settlement. The Claims Resolution Act of 2010 ratified the settlement and funded it with $3.4 billion, The court provided notice, including of the opt-out right. Challenges to the opt-out and notice provisions were rejected. Indian allotees with interests in the North Dakota Fort Berthold Reservation, located on the Bakken Oil Shale (contiguous deposits of oil and natural gas), cannot lease their oil-and-gas interests unless the Secretary approves the lease as “in the best interest of the Indian owners,” 122 Stat. 620 (1998). In 2013, allotees sued, alleging that, in 2006-2009, a company obtained Fort Berthold allotment leases at below-market rates, then resold them for a profit of $900 million. The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the government, holding that the allotees had forfeited their claims by failing to opt out of the earlier settlement. View "Two Shields v. United States" on Justia Law
Arctic Slope Native Assoc., Ltd. v. Sebelius
ASNA is an inter-tribal consortium of federally recognized tribes situated in Alaska. In 1996, 1997, and 1998, ASNA contracted with the Department of Health and Human Services, under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act to operate a hospital. ISDA requires the government to pay costs reasonably incurred in managing the programs, 25 U.S.C. 450j-1. There have been three previous class actions concerning payments. One resulted in settlement; in two the courts denied class certification for failure to exhaust administrative remedies because claims had not first been submitted to the contracting officer. ANSA brought its claim, arguing that it was a putative class member in those suits even though it did not individually present claims to the contracting officer within the Contract Disputes Act six-year limitations period and that the limitations period was tolled while those cases were pending. The Civilian Board of Contract Appeals dismissed. The Federal Circuit reversed. The class actions involved similar issues and parties, and put the government on notice of the general nature and legal theory underlying ASNA’s claims. ASNA monitored the legal landscape, took action as appropriate, and reasonably relied upon controlling authority, holding that it did not need to exhaust administrative remedies to be a class member.View "Arctic Slope Native Assoc., Ltd. v. Sebelius" on Justia Law
Downing v. Globe Direct LLC
The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles sought proposals from contractors to print and send registration renewal notices along with advertisements to raise revenue to defray costs. RMV would provide the contractor with information (name, address, date of birth, and license number) that was generally exempt from public disclosure under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. 2721-25, and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 4, sect. 7, cl. 26(n), that the contractor would need to safeguard from unlawful public disclosure. Defendant's winning bid indicated that it understood and accepted the terms. The contract specified that Massachusetts would continue to exercise ownership over all personal data, and that a violation of the DPPA or the Massachusetts privacy law would cause the contract to terminate. Plaintiff, who received a registration renewal notice that included advertisements, filed a putative class action on behalf of himself and other drivers who, without providing consent, had received advertisements from defendant. The district court granted defendant judgment on the pleadings based on failure to join the Commonwealth as an indispensable party. The First Circuit affirmed, finding no violation of the DPPA. Defendant does not disclose the information it legitimately receives, as the state's contractor, to others. View "Downing v. Globe Direct LLC" on Justia Law
Corey Airport Services, Inc. v. Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc.
This case involved the competitive bidding for an airport advertising concession. After the completion of the bid process, plaintiff - the second-place finisher - brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging a conspiracy to violate plaintiff's equal protection rights during the bid process. The court concluded that plaintiff's conspiracy claim failed against defendants because the underlying proposed equal protection claim failed, lacking the sufficient identifiable group required. Therefore, the court concluded that the facts and inferences in this case pointed overwhelmingly in favor of defendants. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's post-verdict order denying judgment as a matter of law and remanded with instructions to grant judgment as a matter of law to defendants. View "Corey Airport Services, Inc. v. Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc." on Justia Law
E.T., et al. v. Cantil-Sakauye, et al.
Plaintiff foster children appeal the dismissal of their class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, in which they alleged that the caseloads of the Sacramento County Dependency Court and court-appointed attorneys were so excessive as to violate federal and state constitutional and statutory provisions. The district court abstained from adjudicating plaintiff's claims. The court held that the district court properly abstained from consideration of the claims plaintiff raised here based on O'Shea v. Littleton. Accordingly, the court affirmed the dismissal of the complaint. View "E.T., et al. v. Cantil-Sakauye, et al." on Justia Law