Justia Government Contracts Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Supreme Court of Georgia
Georgia, et al. v. Federal Defender Program, Inc., et al.
After an order was issued setting the execution of Virgil Delano Presnell, Jr., the Federal Defender Program, Inc. filed a breach of contract action against the State of Georgia and Christopher Carr in his official capacity as Attorney General (collectively, the “State”) alleging that the State breached a contract governing the resumption of the execution of death sentences in Georgia after the COVID-19 pandemic. The State contended the trial court erred in denying its motion to dismiss based on sovereign immunity and in granting the Appellees’ emergency motion for a temporary restraining order and an interlocutory injunction. The Georgia Supreme Court concluded that an e-mail exchange between a deputy attorney general and certain capital defense attorneys, including an attorney employed by the Federal Defender, constituted a written contract sufficient to waive sovereign immunity in this matter, and the Supreme Court in turn conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in weighing the equities in granting the Appellees’ motion for injunctive relief. Accordingly, judgment was affirmed. View "Georgia, et al. v. Federal Defender Program, Inc., et al." on Justia Law
City of Union Point v. Greene County
In October 1999, pursuant to the Service Delivery Strategy Act (SDS), Greene County, Georgia and five municipalities within the County, including the City of Union Point, entered into various intergovernmental agreements governing local services. In 2015, the City of Union Point filed a “Complaint for TRO, Interlocutory and Permanent Injunction,” alleging that Greene County had unilaterally discontinued police and fire dispatch and communications services to the City’s police and fire departments and had ignored attempts to resolve the issue. The trial court entered a temporary restraining order directing the County to resume dispatch and communications services. A month later, in response to a motion to dismiss, the City amended its complaint to seek a declaratory judgment and mediation under the SDS Act. After the County filed a second motion to dismiss on the grounds of sovereign immunity, standing, and untimely request for mediation, the City again amended its complaint to assert claims for breach of contract, mandamus, specific performance, injunction and attorney fees, and attached a certified copy of the service delivery agreements on file with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Before the Georgia Supreme Court, this case called into question the constitutionality of the evidentiary hearing process provided by OCGA 36-70-25.1 (d) (2). In its order entered at the end of the hearing process, the trial court found that portion of the statute unconstitutional, and further found that sovereign immunity barred all claims and remedies except those provided for in the SDS Act itself. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling on sovereign immunity, but reversed its finding on the constitutionality of OCGA 36-70-25.1 (d) (2). Furthermore, the Court found the trial court exceeded the bounds of the statutory process by going beyond the remedies provided to order particular actions by the parties and by considering matters not submitted to mediation. View "City of Union Point v. Greene County" on Justia Law
Smith v. Northside Hospital, Inc.
E. Kendrick Smith, an Atlanta lawyer, brought this action to compel a corporation, Northside Hospital, Inc. and its parent company, Northside Health Services, Inc., (collectively, “Northside”), to provide him with access to certain documents in response to his request under the Georgia Open Records Act (“the Act”). A government agency owns and operates a large and complex hospital as part of its mission to provide healthcare throughout Fulton County. The agency leased its assets (including the hospital) to the Northside for a 40-year term at a relatively minimal rent. All governmental powers were delegated to Northside with respect to running the hospital and other assets. Northside’s organizing documents reflected that its purpose aligned with the agency’s: to provide healthcare for the benefit of the public. Thirty years into the arrangement, the corporation became “massive,” and owned other assets in surrounding counties. In resisting Smith’s request for records, Northside argued it no didn’t really do anything on behalf of the agency (in part because the now nearly-nonexistent agency has no idea what the corporation is doing), and thus the corporation’s records of a series of healthcare-related acquisitions weren’t subject to public inspection. The Georgia Supreme Court surmised that if the corporation’s aggressive position were wholly correct, it would cast serious doubt on the legality of the whole arrangement between Northside and the agency. Smith argued everything Northside did was for the agency’s benefit and thus all of its records were public. The Supreme Court concluded both were wrong: Northside’s operation of the hospital and other leased facilities was a service it performed on behalf of the agency, so records related to that operation were public records. But whether the acquisition-related records sought here were also public records depended on how closely related the acquisition was to the operation of the leased facilities, a factual question for the trial court to determine on remand. View "Smith v. Northside Hospital, Inc." on Justia Law
Georgia Dept. of Labor v. RTT Associates, Inc.
This case involved a written contract between a vendor and a state agency that contained form language stipulating that amendments had to be in writing and executed by the agency and the contractor. Appellant Georgia Department of Labor (DOL) entered into the contract in question with appellee RTT Associates, Inc. (RTT) to have some computer software developed for the agency. RTT asserted that the contract was extended by course of conduct as well as by certain internal writings created by the agency. By the terms of Georgia’s constitution, the state waived its sovereign immunity for breach of contract when it enters into a written contract. At issue was whether an agency’s waiver of immunity from a breach of contract claim as a result of entering into a written contract remained intact in the event the contract was extended without a written document signed by both parties expressly amending the contract, as required by its terms. The trial court concluded sovereign immunity was not waived beyond the required completion date of the contract, but the Court of Appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed the appellate court, finding RTT failed to complete its contractual obligations before the contract expired. "Even if the parties’ conduct after the expiration of the contract could be found to demonstrate an agreement between the parties to continue to perform under the original contract, as a matter of law neither that conduct nor the internal documents created by DOL after the contract expired establishes a written contract to do so. Without a written contract, the state’s sovereign immunity from a contract action is not waived." View "Georgia Dept. of Labor v. RTT Associates, Inc." on Justia Law