Justia Government Contracts Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
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Crowley Government Services, Inc. sued the General Services Administration and its Administrator (collectively, GSA), seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to halt the GSA’s purported practice of interfering with payments owed to Crowley under its contract with the United States Transportation Command (TRANSCOM). Crowley argued the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and the general federal question statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, conferred subject matter jurisdiction on the district court to review the GSA’s alleged violation of the Contract Disputes Act of 1978, and the Transportation Act of 1940. The question this case presented for the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia's review was whether Crowley’s suit against the GSA, whichwasis not a party to Crowley’s contract with TRANSCOM, was “at its essence” contractual, including whether Crowley “in essence” sought more than $10,000 in monetary relief from the federal government such that it was subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States Court of Federal Claims (Claims Court) pursuant to the Tucker Act. The district court answered affirmatively and dismissed Crowley’s complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals disagreed: Crowley’s action against the GSA in district court was not “at its essence” contractual because Crowley did not seek to enforce or recover on the contract with TRANSCOM. Nor did Crowley “in essence” seek monetary relief from the federal government in district court. Rather, it requested declaratory and injunctive relief that, if granted, would have considerable value independent of (and not negligible in comparison to) any monetary recovery Crowley may ultimately attain in other proceedings. Accordingly, judgment was reversed and remanded to the district court for further proceedings. View "Crowley Government Services, Inc. v. GSA" on Justia Law

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An applicant for a federal license to operate a hydroelectric facility must seek a State certification that the facility’s discharges will comply with the water quality standards specified in federal law. The State may grant the applicant’s request outright, or it may grant the request subject to conditions relating to water quality, or it may deny the request, or it may fail to act.The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) decides whether to license hydroelectric projects subject to federal jurisdiction. Two hydroelectric facilities (“Districts”) filed certification requests for both projects with the California State Water Resources Control Board. The Districts object to the conditions that the California Board imposed in granting their requests for certification. FERC denied the Districts’ petition for a declaratory orderThe DC Circuit denied the petitions for judicial review. The court found that because section 401 requires only action within a year to avoid waiver, FERC also rejected the Districts’ argument that the California Board’s denials were “invalid” as a matter of federal law because they were “on non-substantive grounds” and not “on the technical merits of the certification requests.” The court wrote that it agreed with FERC that the California Board did not waive its certification authority under section 401(a)(1) and that FERC’s ruling is not contrary to Hoopa Valley. The court explained that unlike in Hoopa Valley, here the Districts’ requests were not complete and they were not ready for review. The Board’s denials were “without prejudice,” but those rulings still had the legal effect under section 401 of precluding FERC from issuing licenses to the Districts. View "Turlock Irrigation District v. FERC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a hospice provider, challenges the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) methodology, contending that it violates both the Medicare statute and the Budget Control Act and that CMS did not follow the required administrative procedures for adopting it.According to Plaintiff, the sequestration methodology violated the statute and the regulation by adding back the sequestration reduction withheld from the preliminary disbursements into the equation, such that — for overpayment purposes — funds the providers did not actually receive were being counted against them. Plaintiff contends that CMS was required to use the net payments methodology instead of the sequestration methodology.The court held that the regulations and guidance do not support Plaintiff’s contention that the statute unambiguously requires the net payments methodology. Reasoning that section 1395f(i)(2)(A) does not mandate any one methodology for applying the aggregate cap. Further, the plain meaning of the statute gives no instruction as to how overpayments should be calculated, the court concludes the statute is “silent . . . with respect to the specific issue” of what methodology CMS must use in applying the aggregate cap. Further, because the Secretary’s chosen methodology comports with the statutory text, purpose, and operation, Plaintiff has not shown that the Board’s decision was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.” Thus, the court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the Secretary and denial of summary judgment to Plaintiff. View "Gentiva Health Services, Inc. v. Becerra" on Justia Law

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Appellant, a California critical access hospital, sought Medicare reimbursement for the cost of keeping specialty doctors on call. Under the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, hospitals providing emergency room service must stabilize patients before releasing them or transferring them to another hospital. Additionally, California law requires all hospitals to perform certain procedures, including surgery. Appellant claims that it cannot comply with both state and federal law unless it can pay on-call compensation to specialists in surgery, obstetrics, pediatrics, and cardiology.Affirming the district court’s ruling, the D.C. Circuit held that Appellant is not entitled to Medicare reimbursement for the cost of keeping various specialty doctors on call. Appellant’s federal obligation to stabilize patients before release does not necessarily imply the need for various specialists. Thus, the Provider Reimbursement Review Board (“the Board”) reasonably concluded that Appellant had the ability to stabilize patients with existing emergency room physicians and that specialists were not required to be on call.Regarding Appellant’s state obligations, the Board’s conclusion that Appellant could satisfy the requirements by keeping a physician with surgical training on-site was reasonable. View "St. Helena Clear Lake Hospital v. Xavier Becerra" on Justia Law

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Schindler filed suit alleging that WMATA arbitrarily eliminated it from consideration of a bid to replace escalators throughout WMATA's Metrol Rail System stations even though it complied with the Request for Proposal's (RFP) requirements and offered a better value than that proposed by the awardee.The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal sua sponte of Schindler's complaint based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the ground that WMATA, an interstate compact entity, had not waived its sovereign immunity. The court explained that neither the interstate compact creating WMATA, the Authority's procurement documents nor the Administrative Procedure Act waives WMATA's sovereign immunity for challenges to procurement decisions like Schindler's. View "Schindler Elevator Corp. v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority" on Justia Law

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The Randolph-Sheppard Act (RSA) gives licensed blind individuals priority to operate vending facilities on federal property, 20 U.S.C. 107(b). The Secretary of Education promulgates implementing regulations and designates state agencies to administer the program. The RSA includes a grievance scheme for vendors to challenge a state’s operation of its Randolph-Sheppard program through the state licensing agency. A licensee dissatisfied with the results of the state’s hearing may seek further review before the Secretary, who must “convene a panel to arbitrate the dispute.” In the District of Columbia, the designated licensing agency is the Rehabilitation Services Administration.The plaintiffs, current and former vendors in the District’s Randolph-Sheppard program, claim that the District discriminated against them, based on their blindness, specifically by discriminatory inspections of vending facilities and failing to provide aids such as human or electronic readers. The plaintiffs did not pursue the Randolph-Sheppard grievance procedure but filed a lawsuit, claiming disability-based discrimination under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act. The district court dismissed the case for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The D.C. Circuit affirmed. The plaintiffs had to proceed through the RSA grievance procedure before pursuing their discrimination claims in court; no futility exception could apply here. View "Patten v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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In 2008, four long-term care hospitals that treat patients who are dually eligible for the Medicare and Medicaid programs were denied reimbursement by the Secretary of Health and Human Services for “bad debts,” unpaid coinsurances and deductibles owed by patients. The Secretary denied reimbursement on the grounds that the hospitals failed to comply with the “must-bill” policy, 42 C.F.R. 413.89(e)(2), which requires hospitals to bill the state Medicaid program to determine whether Medicaid will cover the bad debts first, and obtain a “remittance advice” indicating whether the state “refuses payment,” before seeking reimbursement under Medicare. uring the relevant time period, the hospitals were not enrolled in Medicaid and were unable to bill their state Medicaid programs; they claim they were previously reimbursed and that there was an abrupt policy change.The D.C. Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the Secretary, concluding that substantial evidence supported a finding that there was no change in policy. The court rejected arguments that the denial decision impermissibly required them to enroll in Medicaid, despite the fact that Medicaid participation is voluntary, and was arbitrary. View "New LifeCare Hospitals of North Carolina LLC v. Becerra" on Justia Law

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Kennedy worked for Novo, promoting a new diabetes drug, Victoza. FDA approval of Victoza included specific conditions concerning a possible risk of thyroid cancer. According to Kennedy, in preparation for Victoza’s commercial launch, she was directed to market the drug in ways inconsistent with those FDA limitations. Kennedy filed a False Claims Act (FCA) complaint, alleging that Novo caused people to submit millions of dollars in false claims for payment under federal health care programs. Several such cases were consolidated in the District of Columbia. The government intervened. Novo, the government, and Kennedy reached a settlement for $46.5 million.The government filed a separate complaint against Novo, under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), 21 U.S.C. 301, alleging Victoza was an unlawfully “misbranded” drug. In the FDCA Settlement, Novo admitted that it had trained its employees to undermine the risks and agreed to pay the government $12,150,000. Kennedy was not a party to the FDCA litigation.Kennedy sought a share of the FDCA Settlement, arguing that it was an “alternate remedy” under the FCA, 31 U.S.C. 3730(c)(5). The D.C. Circuit reversed Kennedy’s award. The FCA confines qui tam plaintiffs to recoveries only for claims seeking relief based on fraud or falsehoods covered by that statute. The government’s separate FDCA enforcement action did not involve the type of claim cognizable under the FCA, nor did it allege a false or fraudulent effort to obtain money or property from the government. Kennedy received an agreed-upon FCA payment with knowledge of the separate action and is not entitled to further recovery. View "Kennedy v. Novo A/S" on Justia Law

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Cimino, a former IBM senior sales representative, filed a qui tam action, alleging that IBM violated the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729(a)(1)(A), by fraudulently inducing the IRS to enter a $265 million license agreement for “unwanted, unneeded” software. IBM allegedly devised a scheme to pressure the IRS into a long-term renewal deal by conducting an audit, anticipating that the IRS was overusing the software and therefore would owe significant compliance penalties. IBM would then offer to waive penalties in exchange for a new agreement. Contrary to IBM’s expectations, Deloitte’s initial audit showed the IRS was not significantly overusing the licenses. IBM never released these audit results to the IRS but worked with Deloitte to manipulate the results. Deloitte eventually presented the IRS with a false audit. Once the new agreement was in place, IBM allegedly charged an $87 million fee for prospective licenses and support, which “were, upon information and belief, never actually provided.”After a four-year investigation, the government declined to intervene in the qui tam case. The district court dismissed Cimino’s complaint. The D.C. Circuit reversed in part. In light of Supreme Court precedents interpreting the FCA to incorporate the common law, but-for causation is necessary to establish a fraudulent inducement claim. Cimino plausibly pleaded causation, as well as materiality. The court affirmed the dismissal of Cimino’s presentment claims because he failed to plead them with the requisite particularity. View "Cimino v. International Business Machines Corp." on Justia Law

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ACC, the subcontractor on a Corps flood protection project, filed suit against the prime contractor, Hirani, for breach of contract and the providers of Hirani's payment bond, Colonial, under the Miller Act for unpaid labor and materials. The district court entered judgment in favor of ACC and awarded damages against both defendants.The DC Circuit remanded the case to the district court to make findings of fact as to when the Prime Contract was terminated and whether ACC performed labor or supplied material on April 29 and/or April 30. In the event that Colonial and Hirani cannot meet their burden to show that ACC's Miller Act claim was untimely, then this court can resolve the parties' other Miller Act contentions. If Hirani and Colonial show that termination occurred before April 29 or that ACC performed no labor or supplied no material on April 29 or 30, the court can then address the Miller Act statute of limitations issue. The court affirmed the restitution damages award against Hirani on ACC's contract claim where ACC has not provided the court with any basis to deviate from the principle of D.C. law that restitution, not quantum meruit, is the proper remedy where there is an express contract between the parties. The court deferred addressing other issues raised by the parties. View "United States v. Hirani Engineering & Land Surveying, PC" on Justia Law