Justia Government Contracts Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Government Law
City of Baldwin v. Woodard & Curran, Inc.
Woodard & Curran, Inc. ("W&C") sued the City of Baldwin seeking damages on claims of breach of contract and quantum meruit. After a trial, a jury awarded W&C $203,000 in a general verdict that did not specify the basis for the damages. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to consider two issues: (1) whether the Court of Appeals erred in holding that quantum meruit was an available remedy against a municipality when the claim is based on a municipal contract that is ultra vires; and (2) whether the Court of Appeals erred in determining that the jury was properly allowed to consider the breach of contract claim based on an agreement the parties entered in May 2009. Upon review, the Court concluded that the Court of Appeals erred in both respects, and therefore reversed its judgment. View "City of Baldwin v. Woodard & Curran, Inc." on Justia Law
City of Meridian v. PETRA Inc.
This appeal stemmed from a protracted contract dispute arising out of the construction of Meridian’s new City Hall. The City brought suit against the project’s construction manager, Petra, Inc., alleging that Petra breached the parties’ agreement in a number of ways. The City further claimed that Petra was not entitled to any additional fees for its work. Petra counterclaimed, seeking an equitable adjustment of its construction manager fee. After trial, the district court entered its findings of fact and conclusions of law, ruling against the City on all but one of its claims and awarding Petra an additional fee for its services. The court awarded Petra $595,896.17 in costs and $1,275,416.50 in attorney fees, but stayed enforcement of the judgment pending appeal. The City appealed. Finding no error in the district court's judgment in favor of Petra, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "City of Meridian v. PETRA Inc." on Justia Law
Syringa Networks v. Idaho Dept of Admin
In 2008, the legislature enacted legislation to establish the Idaho Education Network (IEN), which was to be a high-bandwidth telecommunications distribution system for distance learning in every public school in the state. Syringa Networks, LLC (Syringa), an Idaho telecommunications company, entered into a “teaming agreement” with ENA Services, LLC (ENA). Pursuant to their agreement, ENA submitted a proposal in response to a request-for-proposals (RFP) with the Department of Administration, although the cover letter stated that both ENA and Syringa were responding jointly to the proposal. Qwest Communications Company, LLC, and Verizon Business Network Services, Inc., also submitted responsive proposals. The proposals were then scored based upon specific criteria; the ENA and Qwest proposals received the highest scores. The Department issued a letter of intent to award contracts to Qwest and ENA. One month later, it issued amendments to the two purchase orders to alter the scope of work that each would perform. Qwest became "the general contractor for all IEN technical network services" (providing the “backbone”) and ENA became "the Service Provider." The effect of these amendments was to make Qwest the exclusive provider of the backbone, which was what Syringa intended to provide as a subcontractor of ENA. Syringa filed this lawsuit against the Department, its director, the chief technology officer, ENA and Qwest. The district court ultimately dismissed Syringa’s lawsuit against all of the Defendants on their respective motions for summary judgment. Syringa then appealed the grants of summary judgment, and the State Defendants cross-appealed the refusal to award them attorney fees. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment dismissing all counts of the complaint except count three seeking to set aside the State's contract with Qwest on the ground that it was awarded in violation of the applicable statutes. Furthermore, the Court reversed Qwest’s award of attorney fees against Syringa. We remand to the trial court the determination of whether any of the State Defendants were entitled to an award of attorney fees against Syringa for proceedings in the district court. The Court awarded costs and attorney fees on appeal to ENA. Because the State Defendants and Syringa both prevailed only in part on appeal, the Court did not award them either costs or attorney fees on appeal.View "Syringa Networks v. Idaho Dept of Admin" on Justia Law
City of Atlanta v. City of College Park
In 1969, the Cities of Atlanta and College Park entered into an agreement for purposes of expanding Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. One of the provisions of the granted Atlanta the exclusive right to collect and levy occupation taxes from businesses located at the Airport that were within the city limits of College Park. In 2007, after commissioning a study for the purpose of reassessing this relationship, College Park informed Atlanta and Airport businesses that it would no longer honor the 1969 Agreement and that it would seek to collect occupation taxes from the Airport businesses including Atlanta's proprietary business operations. Atlanta filed a declaratory action in seeking a judgment that the 1969 Agreement controlled the collection of occupation taxes from businesses operating at the Airport within College Park. Both Atlanta and College Park moved for partial summary judgment, and, in ruling on the cross motions, the trial court found that Atlanta and College Park's 1969 Agreement was unenforceable. The trial court further ruled that OCGA 48-13-13 (5), which prohibited local governments from levying an occupation tax on any "local authority," precluded College Park from levying an occupation tax on Atlanta's proprietary operations because Atlanta met the definition of a "local authority" under the statute. Both parties appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's judgment invalidating the 1969 Agreement, but reversed the trial court's finding that the term "local authority" as used in OCGA 48-13-13 (5) included smunicipalities. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the Court of Appeals was correct in its determination that the City of Atlanta was not a "local authority" as that term is used in the statute.View "City of Atlanta v. City of College Park" on Justia Law
Scientific Games Int’l v. GTech Corp.
In an interlocutory appeal, the issue before the Supreme Court in this case concerned the "contours" of the Board of Claims' exclusive jurisdiction pertaining to procurement litigation against state agencies. Specifically, the Court was asked to determine whether such jurisdiction foreclosed original-jurisdiction proceedings in Commonwealth Court, challenging an Department of General Services' (DGS) cancellation of a request for proposals and request for declaratory and injunctive relief. The matter arose from a 2010 DGS request for proposals for the design, development, implementation, and maintenance of a computer control system to monitor slot machines at gaming venues across the Commonwealth. The plan was to replace an existing system which had been provided by Intervenor-Appellant, GTECH Corporation. GTECH and Appellee Scientific Games International, Inc. (SGI), each submitted proposals, and DGS selected SGI for the award and proceeded with contract negotiations. GTECH was informed that the contract had been awarded to SGI and submitted a protest. Two months later, DGS’s Deputy Secretary for Administration issued a final determination denying GTECH’s protest in material part, with prejudice. GTECH appealed the determination and requested, among other things, that the request for proposals be cancelled. Subsequently, DGS announced that it was canceling the request for proposals and sent a letter to SGI indicating "with little elaboration" that the cancelation was in the best interests of the Commonwealth. Subsequently, SGI commenced an action seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the Departments of Revenue and General Services in the Commonwealth Court’s original jurisdiction and petitioned for a preliminary injunction. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that contractors, bidders, and offerors have limited recourse and remedies: "[r]elative to controversies in matters arising from procurement contracts with Commonwealth agencies, the Board of Claims retains exclusive jurisdiction (subject to all jurisdictional prerequisites), which is not to be supplanted by a court of law through an exercise of original jurisdiction. As to challenges to cancellations of solicitations asserted under Section 521 of the Procurement Code, the Legislature did not implement any waiver of sovereign immunity and afforded no remedy to aggrieved bidders and offerors which have not yet entered into an executed contract with a Commonwealth agency."View "Scientific Games Int'l v. GTech Corp." on Justia Law
Lisle Company, Inc. v. Phenix City Board of Education
The Phenix City Board of Education ("the Board") sought mandamus relief from the Russell Circuit Court's denial of the Board's motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for a summary judgment on claims brought against it by The Lisle Company, Inc. ("Lisle"). Because the Board is immune from suit pursuant to § 14, Ala. Const. 1901, the Supreme Court granted the Board's petition and issued the writ. View "Lisle Company, Inc. v. Phenix City Board of Education" on Justia Law
ConocoPhillips Co. v. Lyons
This case stemmed from a dispute over the proper calculation of royalty payments on state oil and gas leases. Over the years, the Legislature has enacted several versions of the statutory oil and gas lease, and Lessees have entered into “hundreds” of oil and gas leases with the State. Specifically, the New Mexico Legislature enacted statutory oil and gas leases in 1919, 1925, 1927, 1929, 1931, 1945, 1947 and 1984. This appeal concerned the royalty clauses contained in the 1931 and the 1947 statutory lease forms. Both the 1931 lease and 1947 lease specified that the payment of royalty was to be calculated as a percentage of the “net proceeds” resulting from the sale of gas. During 2005 and 2006 Commissioner audited ConocoPhillips Company and Burlington Resources Oil & Gas Company’s royalty payments. Following the Audit, Commissioner notified Lessees that they had been underpaying their royalty obligations and issued them assessments for the underpayment. The Commissioner claimed that pursuant to the terms of the statutory lease forms Lessees could not deduct the post-production costs necessary to prepare the gas for the commercial market when calculating their royalty payments. Commissioner claimed that the improper deductions for post-production costs resulted in ConocoPhillips underpaying royalties by approximately $18.9 million and Burlington underpaying by approximately $5.6 million. In response to Commissioner’s audit and assessments, Lessees filed a complaint in the district court seeking a declaration that Commissioner’s assessment of additional royalty constituted a deprivation of due process, an unconstitutional impairment of contract, and breach of contract. In addition, Lessees claimed that Commissioner had exceeded his constitutional and statutory powers by issuing the assessments and had effectively usurped legislative power by seeking royalty payments under calculation methods not approved by the Legislature. In response, Commissioner alleged a host of counterclaims for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and breach of the implied covenant to market. This appeal pertained to three orders granting summary judgment on behalf of Lessees and a fourth order denying Commissioner’s motion for reconsideration of the district court’s previous dismissal of his counterclaim for breach of the implied covenant to market. In the first order, the district court granted Lessees’ motion for summary judgment. Upon review of the several orders and claims before the Supreme Court on appeal, the Court affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment.View "ConocoPhillips Co. v. Lyons" on Justia Law
Franklin County Sheriff’s Office v. St. Albans City Police Department
The Franklin County Sheriff's Office appealed the trial court's judgment in favor of the St. Albans City Police Department. The Sheriff's Office contended that the City Police Department engaged in an unfair method of competition with the intent to harm competition under the Vermont Consumer Fraud Act's (VCFA) predatory pricing provision. Specifically, the Sheriff's Office argued that the City Police Department submitted an "artificially low" bid in response to the Town of St. Albans's request for proposals for law enforcement services. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed. "Here, the 'competitors' are all statutorily created entities, meaning that one entity cannot lower its prices so as to put another out of business, nor can potential entrants be deterred from entering the 'market' because the statutory scheme allows no new entrants. Although there is competition within a limited sphere as between the statutorily empowered entities, there is no threat of monopolization by any one of them. Thus, the Sheriff's Office's injuries alleged in the complaint do not fall within the zone of interests to be protected by Vermont's predatory pricing statute. . . .the Sheriff's Office was not denied something in which it had a legally protected interest, nor is its claim within the zone of interests protected by the statute, and it therefore lack[ed] constitutional and prudential standing."View "Franklin County Sheriff's Office v. St. Albans City Police Department" on Justia Law
Sea Hawk Seafoods, Inc. v. City of Valdez
Sea Hawk Seafoods, Inc. sued the City of Valdez for damages after Valdez applied for a grant from the State of Alaska for funding to convert Sea Hawk's seafood processing facility into a fish meal plant but then declined to accept the $600,000 grant that the State conditionally awarded to Valdez. On pre-trial motions, the superior court dismissed Sea Hawk's claims for breach of contract, breach of an agreement to negotiate, and breach of a duty to negotiate in good faith. Valdez and Sea Hawk filed cross-motions for summary judgment on Sea Hawk's remaining claim for promissory estoppel, which the court denied. Shortly before trial, the court dismissed Sea Hawk's promissory estoppel claim as a discovery sanction. Sea Hawk and Valdez both appealed. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed: Sea Hawk's claims were based on statements made and a letter sent by the Valdez City Manager to the owner of Sea Hawk. Because these communications, even when viewed in the light most favorable to Sea Hawk, were insufficient as a matter of law to support Sea Hawk's claims. The Court reversed the lower court's ruling denying Valdez summary judgment on Sea Hawk's promissory estoppel claim.View "Sea Hawk Seafoods, Inc. v. City of Valdez" on Justia Law
Professional Fire Fighters of Wolfeboro, IAFF Local 3708 v. Town of Wolfeboro
Petitioners Professional Fire Fighters of Wolfeboro, IAFF Local 3708, president of the union and several firefighters appealed a superior court order that dismissed their suit against Respondent Town of Wolfeboro. The suit arose from the parties' negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The Union had ever been certified by the New Hampshire Public Employee Labor Relations Board (PELRB) as a bargaining unit. In July 2010, the parties met and agreed on ground rules governing the conduct of their future negotiations, including that "[a]fter October 1, 2010, either party [could] request mediation of the outstanding issues." Shortly thereafter, however, the negotiations broke down. At an August 2010 meeting, the Town's Board of Selectmen voted to rescind its recognition of the Union. The petitioners filed a verified petition for an ex parte temporary restraining order against the Town and requested temporary and permanent injunctive relief. After a hearing, the trial court granted the petitioners' requested temporary restraining order, and scheduled the matter for further hearing. The Town moved to dismiss the entire proceeding. Following a hearing, the trial court granted the Town's motion and vacated its temporary restraining order. The petitioners unsuccessfully moved for reconsideration. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court held that the portion of RSA 31:3 which grants municipalities the right to recognize unions and enter into collective bargaining agreements was superseded by the enactment of the PELRA, and, therefore, the Town had no authority to recognize the non-PELRB-certified Union. Accordingly, the agreement, as well as the subsequent agreements, were ultra vires contracts and wholly void. The Court affirmed the superior court's decision to dismiss Petitioners' case.View "Professional Fire Fighters of Wolfeboro, IAFF Local 3708 v. Town of Wolfeboro" on Justia Law