Justia Government Contracts Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law
by
The case revolves around a dispute over a public contract for services to be rendered to the state. The plaintiffs, Talley Amusements, Inc. and others, alleged that the 32nd District Agricultural Association and others violated the Public Contract Code section 10339 when they solicited proposals for a master carnival operator contract for the county fair. The plaintiffs claimed that the request for proposal (RFP) was written in such a way that only one carnival operator in the United States could qualify, thereby limiting the bidding process.The Superior Court of Orange County initially reviewed the case. The court found that section 10339, which prohibits a state agency from drafting an RFP in a way that directly or indirectly limits bidding to any one bidder, did not apply to this particular contract. As a result, the court denied the plaintiffs' request for a temporary injunction under section 10421, which allows a court to issue a temporary injunction preventing further dealings on a public contract awarded in violation of section 10339.The case was then brought before the Court of Appeal of the State of California Fourth Appellate District Division Three. The main issue on appeal was whether the competitive bidding requirements of section 10339 apply to a district agricultural association’s RFP on a master carnival contract. After reviewing the matter de novo, the court held that section 10339 did not apply to the contract at issue because it was not a contract for services to be rendered to the state. Therefore, the court affirmed the trial court’s order denying injunctive relief under section 10421. View "Talley Amusements v. The 32nd District Agricultural Association" on Justia Law

by
Percipient.ai, Inc., a company that offers a commercial computer vision (CV) platform, appealed a decision by the United States Court of Federal Claims that dismissed its case against the United States and CACI, Inc.-Federal. The case centered on the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's (NGA) procurement process for its SAFFIRE project, which aimed to improve its processes for obtaining and storing visual intelligence data. Percipient alleged that NGA and its contractor, CACI, violated the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994 (FASA) and other procurement-related statutes by not considering its commercial CV platform, Mirage, for the project.The Court of Federal Claims had dismissed Percipient's case, ruling that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction under the FASA task order bar, which limits protests related to the issuance of task orders. The court also rejected Percipient's arguments related to the Tucker Act, standing, and timeliness.The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the lower court's decision. It held that the FASA task order bar did not apply because Percipient's protest was not connected to the issuance of a task order. The court also found that Percipient's protest fell within the jurisdiction of the Court of Federal Claims under the Tucker Act, as it alleged a violation of procurement-related statutes. The court further held that Percipient had standing to bring the case and that its claims were timely. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "PERCIPIENT.AI, INC. v. US " on Justia Law

by
Eghbal Saffarinia, a former high-ranking official in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of the Inspector General (HUD-OIG), was required by federal law to file annual financial disclosure forms detailing most of his financial liabilities over $10,000. One of Saffarinia’s responsibilities was the allocation of HUD-OIG’s information technology contracts. An investigation revealed that Saffarinia had repeatedly falsified his financial disclosure forms and failed to disclose financial liabilities over $10,000. The investigation also revealed that one of the persons from whom Saffarinia had borrowed money was the owner of an IT company that had been awarded HUD-OIG IT contracts during the time when Saffarinia had near-complete power over the agency operation.Saffarinia was indicted on seven counts, including three counts of obstruction of justice. A jury convicted Saffarinia on all seven counts, and the District Court sentenced him to a year and a day in federal prison, followed by one year of supervised release. Saffarinia appealed his conviction, arguing that the law under which he was convicted did not extend to alleged obstruction of an agency’s review of financial disclosure forms because the review of these forms is insufficiently formal to fall within the law’s ambit. He also argued that the evidence presented at trial diverged from the charges contained in the indictment, resulting in either the constructive amendment of the indictment against him or, in the alternative, a prejudicial variance. Finally, Saffarinia challenged the sufficiency of the evidence presented against him at trial.The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found no basis to overturn Saffarinia’s conviction. The court held that the law under which Saffarinia was convicted was intended to capture the sorts of activity with which Saffarinia was charged. The court also found that the government neither constructively amended Saffarinia’s indictment nor prejudicially varied the charges against him. Finally, the court found that the evidence presented at Saffarinia’s trial was sufficient to support his conviction. The court therefore affirmed the judgment of the District Court. View "USA v. Saffarinia" on Justia Law

by
The case involves Vanda Pharmaceuticals, a drug manufacturer, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Vanda challenged a 2020 regulation by CMS that expanded the definition of a "line extension" drug under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program. This program requires drug manufacturers to reimburse Medicaid if they increase their prices faster than inflation. A "line extension" drug, which is a new formulation of an existing drug, can also be liable for price increases of the original drug. Vanda argued that the regulation expanded the definition of a line extension beyond what the Medicaid statute permitted.Previously, the district court granted summary judgment to CMS, disagreeing with Vanda's argument. The court held that the agency's regulation was within the bounds of the Medicaid statute.The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The court found that the agency's definitions of "line extension" and "new formulation" were within the Medicaid statute's ambit. It also held that the agency's interpretation of the oral-solid-dosage-form requirement was not contrary to law. The court rejected Vanda's argument that the agency's rulemaking process was arbitrary and capricious, finding that the agency had reasonably considered the relevant issues and explained its decision. View "Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services" on Justia Law

by
Frederic P. Zotos, an attorney residing in Cohasset, Massachusetts, filed a qui tam complaint against the Town of Hingham and several of its officials. Zotos alleged that the town and its officials posted speed limit signs and advisory speed plaques that did not comply with applicable federal and state laws and regulations. He further claimed that the town applied for and received reimbursements for these signs and plaques from both the federal government and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Zotos asserted that the town fraudulently induced the federal government to pay it roughly $3,300,000 and the Commonwealth to pay it approximately $7,300,000.The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts dismissed Zotos's complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The court concluded that the qui tam action was not barred by either claim or issue preclusion. However, it found that Zotos's claims fell short of the False Claims Act (FCA) and Massachusetts False Claims Act's (MFCA) requirements. Specifically, it ruled that Zotos failed to sufficiently plead that the alleged misrepresentations were material to the federal government's and the Commonwealth's respective decisions.On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The appellate court found that Zotos's complaint did not adequately allege that the defendants' purported misrepresentations were material. It noted that the essence of the bargain under the Federal-Aid Highway Program (FAHP) and the Chapter 90 program was that the defendants incurred permissible costs on projects that were duly reimbursed. The court concluded that Zotos's allegations amounted to ancillary violations that, without more, were insufficient to establish materiality. View "United States ex rel. Zotos v. Town of Hingham" on Justia Law

by
The case involves Purpose Built Families Foundation, a Florida nonprofit that received federal grants from the Department of Veterans Affairs to serve veterans and their families. In 2022, the Department notified the Foundation that activities and payments under five grants would be terminated or withheld due to "major fiscal mismanagement activities". The Foundation sued the Secretary of Veterans Affairs under the Administrative Procedure Act and received a temporary restraining order. Subsequently, the Department withdrew the challenged notices and the Secretary moved to dismiss the action as moot. The district court granted the motion.The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court. The court held that the case was moot, as the Department's withdrawal of the notices meant the Foundation's claims could not provide meaningful relief. It also ruled that neither the voluntary-cessation nor the capable-of-repetition-yet-evading-review exceptions to mootness applied. The court stated that the Department's subsequent actions, including a more robust process and new termination notices, were materially different from the original notices. Therefore, a lawsuit challenging the new termination notices would involve materially different allegations and answers. The court concluded that the Foundation would have ample opportunity for judicial review of the legality of the new terminations, once the administrative process was completed. View "Purpose Built Families Foundation, Inc. v. USA" on Justia Law

by
This case involves Avue Technologies Corporation ("Avue") and the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Administrator of the General Services Administration. Avue is a software development company that sells its software to private and government entities, which helps them automate administrative tasks while complying with statutory, regulatory, and policy requirements. Avue does not sell its software licenses directly to federal agencies. Instead, it sells annual subscriptions through third party Carahsoft Technology Corporation (“Carahsoft”), an authorized reseller that has a Federal Supply Schedule (“FSS”) contract with the General Services Administration (“GSA”).Avue tried to govern its relationship with end users of its software through an end-user licensing agreement ("EULA"), which is incorporated into the FSS contract between Carahsoft and the GSA. In 2015, the Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") placed a task order for a subscription to Avue's software under the FSS contract. However, in 2016, the FDA chose not to renew its subscription, leading Avue to claim that the FDA had violated its EULA.The Civilian Board of Contract Appeals ("Board") dismissed Avue's appeal for lack of jurisdiction, stating that even if the EULA established a contract between Avue and the U.S. Government, the Board lacked jurisdiction because the EULA was not a procurement contract within the meaning of the Contract Disputes Act ("CDA"). Avue appealed this decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.The court disagreed with the Board's decision, stating that Avue only needed to allege non-frivolously that it had a contract with the U.S. Government to establish the Board's jurisdiction, and it didn't need to prove the existence of such a contract. The court held that Avue's allegation that it was part of a procurement contract was non-frivolous and sufficient to establish the Board's jurisdiction. Therefore, the court vacated the Board's dismissal and remanded the case for further proceedings on the merits. View "AVUE TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION v. HHS " on Justia Law

by
In this case, Fred Zackery sought access to confidential settlement agreements between the Water Works and Sewer Board of the City of Gadsden ("the Board") and various carpet and chemical manufacturers. Zackery requested these agreements under the Open Records Act. The Board had sued the manufacturers, alleging they contaminated the Board's raw water intake. The Board settled with all the manufacturers and planned to use the settlement funds to build and maintain a new water-treatment facility.Zackery, a citizen of Gadsden and a local radio station manager, intervened in the lawsuit specifically to request disclosure of the settlement agreements. The trial court granted his intervention but ruled that the Board didn't have to disclose the agreements until it had accepted a bid for the construction of the water-treatment facility. This decision was grounded in Alabama's Competitive Bid Law, which is designed to guard against corruption and favoritism in awarding contracts for public projects.The Supreme Court of Alabama upheld the trial court's decision, affirming that the immediate disclosure of the settlements could interfere with the competitive bid process, potentially driving bids upwards and leaving fewer funds for the long-term operation and maintenance of the new facility. This situation, the court reasoned, could cause rate hikes for the Board's customers. Therefore, the court concluded that an exception to the Open Records Act justified nondisclosure of the settlement agreements until the competitive-bid process was complete. View "Zackery v. Water Works and Sewer Board of the City of Gadsden" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the superior court judge dismissing the underlying declaratory judgment complaint in this declaratory judgment action regarding the scope of the Department of Housing and Community Development's (DHCD) authority under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 121B, 7A, holding that dismissal was warranted.Plaintiffs - location housing authorities (LHAs) of various cities and towns, current and former executive directors of LHAs and others - sought a judgment declaring that DHCD exceeded its authority under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 121B, 7A by promulgating guidelines that govern contracts between an LHA and its executive director and making compliance with the guidelines a requirement to obtain contractual approval from DHCD. A superior court judge allowed DHCD's motion to dismiss. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that LHAs have authority to hire executive directors and "determine their qualifications, duties, and compensation, under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 121B, 7. View "Fairhaven Housing Authority v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

by
Stronghold and the city entered into a 2015 contract to renovate the Monterey Conference Center. Before filing a lawsuit asserting a claim for money or damages against a public entity, the Government Claims Act (Gov. Code 810) requires that a claim be presented to the entity. Without first presenting a claim to the city, Stronghold filed suit seeking declaratory relief regarding the interpretation of the contract, and asserting that the Act was inapplicable.Stronghold presented three claims to the city in 2017-2019, based on its refusal to approve change orders necessitated by purportedly excusable delays. Stronghold filed a fourth amended complaint, alleging breach of contract. The court granted the city summary judgment, reasoning that the declaratory relief cause of action in the initial complaint was, in essence, a claim for money or damages and that all claims in the operative complaint “lack merit” because Stronghold failed to timely present a claim to the city before filing suit.The court of appeal reversed. The notice requirement does not apply to an action seeking purely declaratory relief. A declaratory relief action seeking interpretation of a contract is not a claim for money or damages, even if the judicial interpretation sought may later be the basis for a separate claim for money or damages which would trigger the claim presentation requirement. View "Stronghold Engineering, Inc. v. City of Monterey" on Justia Law