Justia Government Contracts Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
United States ex rel. McBride v. Halliburton
Relator filed suit against KBR, alleging violations of the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729(a), based on KBR's alleged inflation of "headcount" data from July 2004 to March 2005. The headcount data purported to track how many U.S. troops frequented KBR's recreation centers at certain camps in Iraq. The district court granted summary judgment to KBR. The court took into account the Supreme Court's intervening decision in Universal Health Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Escobar, and agreed with the district court's conclusion that relator failed to offer evidence that any misrepresentation regarding headcount data (if one existed) was material to the Government's decision to pay KBR. View "United States ex rel. McBride v. Halliburton" on Justia Law
Silver State Land, LLC v. Schneider
Henderson, Nevada executed an agreement with Developer to construct sports venues on 480 acres of federally-owned public land. The city requested the Bureau of Land Management in the Department of Interior to convey the land to Developer. After completion of the project, Developer was to transfer ownership of the land and the sports complex to the city; the city would lease back the venues to Developer. The Bureau agreed to conduct a modified competitive sealed-bid auction, so that Developer had the right to match the highest bid. After the bidding, Developer paid the balance and requested the land patent for recording. Within hours after the funds transferred to the Bureau, Developer terminated its agreement with Henderson. Henderson requested the Bureau to cancel the sale and sued Developer. The parties settled. Developer agreed to give the city $4.25 million after it recorded the patent and not to pursue any development in Henderson. The city agreed to withdraw its objection. The Department determined that the Bureau should not release a patent for the land. Developer alleged violation of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act by canceling the sale more than 30 days after it paid for the land. The district court held that the Secretary had plenary power to terminate the sale because its consummation would have been contrary to law, given that the Bureau had authorized a modified land auction, only because of the anticipated public benefits. The D.C. Circuit affirmed, rejecting a claim that the Secretary’s action was arbitrary. The auction sale was rendered unlawful when Developer terminated the agreement; it did not suffer a due process violation because it never acquired a property interest in the land. View "Silver State Land, LLC v. Schneider" on Justia Law
Borgess Medical Center v. Burwell
In 1973, two Kalamazoo, Michigan hospitals formed a consortium to manage their health education programs and to train interns and residents. In the 1980s, they joined Michigan State University to form the Michigan State University Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies (KCMS). KCMS administered graduate medical programs for residency programs for the hospitals. The hospitals agreed to incur “joint and equal responsibility for providing [KCMS] with sufficient financing to carry out its programs as negotiated on a yearly basis.” KCMS also received patient-care revenue, support from Michigan State University, and funds from contracts and grants. The hospitals sought reimbursement on their Medicare cost reports (42 U.S.C. 1395ww(h)) during fiscal years 2000–2004 for costs incurred for residents’ training at KCMS’s nonhospital clinics. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that the hospitals failed to show they incurred all or substantially all of the costs of their residency programs and that they failed to comply with a requirement of a written agreement detailing the financing of their offsite programs. The district court and D.C. Circuit affirmed the denials of reimbursement, rejecting an argument that the “written agreement” requirement was satisfied by a collection of documents executed over the years. None of the documents met the regulatory criteria. View "Borgess Medical Center v. Burwell" on Justia Law
Lockheed Martin Corp. v. United States
In this appeal, the United States challenges its liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. 9601-75, for a portion of the cost of cleaning up hazardous substances at three California facilities owned by Lockheed. The government acknowledges its own share of CERCLA liability and also that it agreed to reimburse Lockheed’s share via overhead charges on unrelated contracts. At issue is whether the government has a valid claim that the particular mechanism by which the United States will pay its share of the costs of environmental remediation under CERCLA interacts with the parties’ agreed-upon contract-based reimbursement method in a way that impermissibly requires the government to make double payment. The court concluded that the district court’s CERCLA judgment did not create any double recovery and the court rejected the government's arguments to the contrary; the government's protest that the crediting mechanism does not help, but instead harms it further, is unavailing; even assuming the court was in a position to review the equities of the parties’ own choice in their Billing Agreement to resort to the indirect-cost billing and crediting mechanism and their apparent decision to use that mechanism for payment and crediting of future costs, the government has not clearly identified how the crediting mechanism is a source of inequity; and, at this juncture, on appeal from the district court’s judgment imposing no liability on the government for past costs, section 114(b) simply is not implicated. Because the all of the government's claims fail, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Lockheed Martin Corp. v. United States" on Justia Law
United States v. Philip Morris USA Inc.
Relator filed a qui tam action against Phillip Morris, alleging that the company violated the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729-3733, by charging NEXCOM and AAFES prices for cigarettes that violate the terms of their contracts. The district court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the claim under the FCA's public disclosure bar. The court concluded that the transactions that relator contends create an inference of fraud were publicly disclosed through a statutorily enumerated channel, triggering the jurisdictional bar. The court further concluded that relator does not possess any direct information about the underlying transactions that would allow him to rescue his claim from the jurisdictional bar by qualifying as an original source. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Philip Morris USA Inc." on Justia Law
District of Columbia v. DOL
This appeal concerns CityCenterDC, a large private development in the heart of Washington, D.C. At issue is whether the Davis-Bacon Act, 40 U.S.C. 3142(a), applies to the construction of CityCenterDC. In this case, the court concluded that the District of Columbia was not a party to the construction contracts for the building of CityCenterDC, and CityCenterDC is not a “public work.” Based on either of these two alternative and independent reasons, the court determined that the Davis-Bacon Act does not apply to the construction of CityCenterDC. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "District of Columbia v. DOL" on Justia Law
United States v. Record Press, Inc.
Relator filed a qui tam action under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729-3733, contending that Record Press had submitted a fraudulent bill for printing services to the government. The district court granted judgment for Record Press. The court affirmed the district court's conclusion because there was no evidence that Record Press had submitted any false claims with knowledge it was doing so, as would be required for liability under the Act. In this case, the district court properly considered testimony and evidence indicating that the government agreed with Record Press about the disputed contract rate. Further, the district court did not consider the government’s understanding of the contract as part of any defense. Rather, it relied on the government’s agreement with Record Press about the proper understanding of the contract as evidence that there had been no fraudulent behavior in the first place. The court remanded for further proceedings on Record Press’s motion for attorneys’ fees because the district court did not make the findings necessary to enable the court to review its grounds for denying a fee award. View "United States v. Record Press, Inc." on Justia Law
United States ex rel. Purcell v. MWI Corp.
After the United States prevailed in a civil action brought pursuant to the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729, based on certifications by MWI to the Bank to secure loans financing MWI's sale of water pumps to Nigeria, a jury awarded the government $7.5 million in damages. The damages were trebled to $22.5 million pursuant to the FCA. Because an FCA defendant is entitled to an offset from the trebled damages by any amount paid to compensate the government for the harm caused by the false claims, and the district court considered Nigeria’s repayment of the loan to be compensatory, MWI’s damages were reduced from $22.5 million to $0. The district court did impose civil penalties at the highest level. The government appealed and MWI cross-appealed. The court reversed the judgment because the government failed to establish that MWI knowingly made a false claim. Absent evidence that the Bank, or other government entity, had officially warned MWI away from its otherwise facially reasonable interpretation of an undefined and ambiguous term, the FCA’s objective knowledge standard, as the Supreme Court clarified while this litigation was pending in Safeco Insurance Co. of America v. Burr, did not permit a jury to find that MWI “knowingly” made a false claim. View "United States ex rel. Purcell v. MWI Corp." on Justia Law