Justia Government Contracts Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Military Law
Biggers v. Dep’t of the Navy
Biggers had been employed by the Navy for 29 years and in 2007 was Security Manager for the Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center. The position required him to maintain a top secret security clearance. In 2008, a duty officer found that an outer vault door of the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network room was left open. Biggers notified the Commanding Officer of the potential violation. After an investigation, the Command Evaluator recommended that all security personnel (including Biggers) have their access to classified material suspended because “the investigation revealed numerous systemic problems, violations and deficiencies.” Biggers’ security clearance was suspended pending a final determination by the Department of Navy Central Adjudication Facility (DONCAF) pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 7513. Ultimately, DONCAF concluded that the information provided by Biggers and the Center “sufficiently explained, mitigated, or provided extenuating circumstances,” and Biggers was found eligible for a Top Secret clearance and assignment to a sensitive position and returned to duty status.. His suspension had lasted nine months. The Navy did not provide back pay or treat him as employed for calculation of retirement benefits. Biggers alleged that the suspension was motivated by retaliatory animus arising from his participation in an EEOC proceeding. An AJ determined that the Merit Systems Protection Board may not review the merits of a security clearance revocation or suspension. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that Biggers was not entitled to back pay. View "Biggers v. Dep't of the Navy" on Justia Law
Roberts v. United States
Roberts asserts that he is owed living quarters allowance (LQA) for his current civilian position as Deputy Camp Commander for a Marine Corps base in Okinawa, Japan. LQA is authorized for particular classes of employees by the Overseas Differentials and Allowance Act, 5 U.S.C. 5921, and regulations issued by the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and Marine Corps Bases Japan Order P12000.2A. In deciding whether to offer LQA for Roberts’s position, the deputy commanding general considered prior experience that there were qualified, locally-available candidates for DCC positions for whom LQA was not needed as a recruitment incentive. Many active-duty Marines like Roberts wished to remain in Okinawa in civilian positions after retirement. The deputy commanding general also determined that there were insufficient funds to support LQA for DCC positions in Okinawa without reallocating funds from other programs. Response to the 2008 job announcement, which noted that LQA was not offered, confirmed the lack of recruitment need; 14 qualified, locally-available candidates applied. When he was offered the position, Roberts was informed that his salary would be include no LQA.” The Claims Court rejected Roberts’s subsequent appeal of denial of his request for LQA. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Roberts v. United States" on Justia Law
Kellogg Brown & Root Servs. v. United States
In 2001 KBR agreed to provide the Army with logistics support services during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Individual task orders required KBR to install, operate and maintain dining services near Mosul, Iraq on a cost-plus-award-fee basis. KBR selected ABC, a subcontractor, to build a prefabricated metal dining facility and to provide dining services for a camp population of 2,573. In June 2004, the Army ordered KBR to stop construction of the metal facility and begin construction of a reinforced concrete facility for an estimated 2,573 to 6,200+ persons. Instead of requesting bids for the new work, KBR kept ABC as the subcontractor due to the urgency of the request. ABC submitted a new proposal with a total monthly cost about triple the monthly cost initially quoted. ABC attributed the increased costs to additional labor and equipment to serve a larger population and to a drastic increase in the cost of labor and a severe shortage of staff willing to work in Iraq. Due to a calculation error, it was determined that ABC’s proposal was reasonable. KBR’s management reviewed and approved a change order, embodying ABC’s proposal. In 2005 the subcontract ended and title to the dining facility passed to the Army. In 2007, the Defense Contract Auditing Agency suspended payment of certain costs paid by KBR to ABC pursuant to the change order. KBR prepared a new price justification for the concrete dining facility and ultimately filed suit, seeking recovery of the $12,529,504 in costs disapproved for reimbursement. The Claims Court awarded $6,779,762. The Federal Circuit affirmed.View "Kellogg Brown & Root Servs. v. United States" on Justia Law
Harris v. Kellogg Brown & Root Servs., Inc.
During the Iraq War, the U.S. military established the Radwaniyah Palace Complex as a base of operations. Staff Sergeant Maseth was stationed there and assigned to live in a barracks building that predated the war and was known to have significant electrical problems. In 2008, Staff Sergeant Maseth died by electrocution while taking a shower in the barracks. The shower was electrified by an ungrounded, unbonded water pump. Maseth’s estate and his parents sued KBR, a military contractor hired to perform maintenance services at the barracks. The district court dismissed, holding that the case was nonjusticiable and, alternatively, that the claims were preempted by the federal policy embodied in the Federal Tort Claims Act’s combatant activities exception, 28 U.S.C. 2680(j). The Third Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that the claims are not preempted by the combatant activities exception and reasoning that the political question issue requires a preliminary determination of which state’s law controls. View "Harris v. Kellogg Brown & Root Servs., Inc." on Justia Law
U.S. Marine, Inc. v. United States
USM builds military boats. Working with VT Halter, USM designed a special-operations craft with a hull made out of composite materials for use in competing for the Navy's “MK V Special Operations Craft and Transporter System Contract.” With its 1993 bid, VT Halter submitted drawings stamped with a “Limited Rights Legend” to invoke Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations Supplement Section 252.227-7013(a)(15), which limits governmental use and disclosure of certain information. VT Halter won the contracts and delivered 24 Mark V special-operations craft. In 2004, the Navy awarded University of Maine a research grant to improve the ride and handling of the Mark V and provided detailed design drawings of the Mark V to contractors, stamped with the DFARS Limited Rights Legend, but did not obtain VT Halter’s consent for disclosure. The Navy awarded Maine Marine a contract to design and construct a prototype Mark V.1. USM sued under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 1346(b), alleging misappropriation of trade secrets. The district court awarded damages, but the Fifth Circuit held that the matter lay exclusively within the jurisdiction of the Court of Federal Claims under the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. 1491(a)(1). The Fifth Circuit vacated the judgment and ordered transfer. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "U.S. Marine, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law
United States ex rel. Carter v. Halliburton Co.
Plaintiff filed a qui tam lawsuit under the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729, alleging that defendants fraudulently billed the United States for services provided to the military forces serving in Iraq. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's dismissal of his complaint with prejudice. Because the court concluded that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction and the court found that the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act (WSLA), 18 U.S.C. 3287, applied to this action, the court reversed. Because it could be appropriate for the district court to make factual findings to consider the public disclosure claim urged by defendants the court remanded so the district court could consider this issue. View "United States ex rel. Carter v. Halliburton Co." on Justia Law
Sharp Elec. Corp. v. McHugh
Sharp, a federal supply contractor, submitted a termination compensation claim to the Department of the Army contracting officer, and later brought a Contracts Dispute Act claim before the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, claiming that, because the Army failed to exercise the entirety of the last option year under a delivery order, Sharp was entitled to premature discontinuance fees under its General Services Administration schedule contract. The ASBCA dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, concluding that the Federal Acquisition Regulation, does not permit ordering agency contracting officers to decide disputes pertaining to schedule contracts. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Under FAR 8.406-6, only the GSA contracting office may resolve disputes that, in whole or in part, involve interpretation of disputed schedule contract provisions. View "Sharp Elec. Corp. v. McHugh" on Justia Law
Indian Harbor Ins. v. United States
Indian Harbor sought reimbursement under the National Defense Authorization Act of 1993, 106 Stat. 2315, 2371; 107 Stat. 1547, 1745 for environmental cleanup costs associated with the development of the former Marine Corps Air Station Tustin military base in southern California. The Court of Federal Claims determined that Indian Harbor failed to identify a “claim for personal injury or property” that triggered the government’s duty to indemnify and dismissed. The Federal Circuit reversed, relying on the purposes of the Act, to encourage cleanup and redevelopment of former military installations. View "Indian Harbor Ins. v. United States" on Justia Law
Ruppel v. CBS Corp.
Ruppel sued CBS in Illinois alleging CBS’s predecessor, Westinghouse, caused the mesothelioma from which he suffers. Westinghouse had included asbestos in the turbines it supplied to the U.S. Navy, and Ruppel was allegedly exposed to it during his Naval service and later when he worked on an aircraft carrier as a civilian. CBS removed the case under the federal officer removal statute, which permits removal of certain suits where a defendant that acted under a federal officer has a colorable federal defense, 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1). Ruppel moved to remand and, without allowing response, the district court granted the motion. The district court concluded Ruppel only sued CBS for failing to warn about the dangers of asbestos for which there is no federal defense. The Seventh Circuit reversed. CBS’s relationship with Ruppel arises solely out of CBS’s duties to the Navy. It also has a colorable argument for the government contractor defense, which immunizes government contractors when they supply products with specifications approved by the government. View "Ruppel v. CBS Corp." on Justia Law
Sys. Application & Tech., Inc. v. United States
The Army solicited proposals for aerial target flight operations and maintenance services. Kratos provided these services under a predecessor contract. The solicitation listed three evaluation factors: Technical/Management; Past Performance; and Price/Cost to be rated as “outstanding,” “satisfactory,” “marginal,” or “unsatisfactory.” The contract was subject to the Service Contract Act of 1965, under which the Federal Acquisition Regulation requires that “successor contractors … in the same locality must pay wages and fringe benefits … at least equal to those contained in any bona fide collective bargaining agreement … under the predecessor contract.” The Army received three proposals, including the offers from SA-TECH and Kratos. After review, the Technical Evaluation Committee announced a Final Evaluation Report, noting potential difficulties for SA-TECH under the Labor sub-factor, but rating SA-TECH as “outstanding” for all factors. Kratos also received “outstanding” ratings. The Source Selection Authority concluded that SA-TECH offered the best value for the government. Kratos filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office. SA-TECH subsequently protested the Army’s decision to engage in corrective action instead of allowing SA-TECH’s award to stand. The Claims Court denied the Army’s motion to dismiss and found the Army’s actions unreasonable and contrary to law. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Sys. Application & Tech., Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law