Justia Government Contracts Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Vermont Supreme Court
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Between 2010 and 2015, pursuant to a contract with the Vermont Department of Corrections (DOC), Wellpath, LLC assumed responsibility for providing medical care to every person in state custody within Vermont. Pursuant to the Vermont’s Public Records Act (PRA), plaintiff Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) requested from Wellpath any records relating to legal actions and settlements arising from this care. Wellpath declined to furnish the requested records, arguing that, as a private contractor, it was not subject to the PRA’s disclosure requirements. HRDC brought the instant suit, and the trial court entered judgment for Wellpath. The Vermont Supreme Court found the language of the PRA was unambiguous: "where the state contracts with a private entity to discharge the entirety of a fundamental and uniquely governmental obligation owed to its citizens, that entity acts as an 'instrumentality' of the State. ... But because here, for five years, Wellpath was the sole means through which the constitutional imperative that the DOC provide healthcare to those it incarcerates was carried out, Wellpath became an 'instrumentality' of the state, and was thus subject to the disclosure obligations of the PRA." Judgment was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Human Rights Defense Center v. Correct Care Solutions, LLC et al." on Justia Law

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The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) appealed the Transportation Board’s order granting judgment to W.M. Schultz Construction, Inc. in this contract dispute. Schultz entered into a contract with VTrans in December 2013 to replace four bridges destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene. Three bridges were completed without incident. This dispute centered on the fourth bridge, referred to as “Bridge #19.” The Bridge #19 project involved the construction of a single-span steel-girder bridge over the White River in Rochester, Vermont. The west abutment was to be placed on a deep pile foundation and the east abutment (Abutment #2) was to be placed on ledge. The work was to begin in April 2014 and be completed in a single construction season. The Board concluded that Schultz encountered “differing site conditions” in carrying out its bridge-construction project and that it was entitled to an equitable adjustment for costs it incurred as a result. VTrans appealed, arguing the Board misread the contract materials and otherwise erred in granting judgment to Schultz. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "W.M. Schultz Construction, Inc. v. Vermont Agency of Transportation" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-inmate Kirk Wool appealed the dismissal of his claim that the Vermont Department of Corrections violated a statutory obligation to negotiate and award a contract to provide telephone services to inmates serving in state correctional facilities in a manner that provided for the lowest reasonable cost to inmates. After review, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of plaintiff’s claim for money damages, but reversed the dismissal of plaintiff’s claim for mandamus relief and remanded for further proceedings. As plaintiff alleged, DOC was required by Vermont law, albeit not specifically and exclusively by the statute he identified in his complaint, to use a competitive bidding process in contracting for telephone services for inmates. The Court found plaintiff’s allegations were sufficient to confer standing and give fair notice to DOC of the claim and the grounds upon which it rested. View "Wool v. Menard" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-inmate Kirk Wool appealed the dismissal of his claim that the Vermont Department of Corrections violated a statutory obligation to negotiate and award a contract to provide telephone services to inmates serving in state correctional facilities in a manner that provided for the lowest reasonable cost to inmates. After review, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of plaintiff’s claim for money damages, but reversed the dismissal of plaintiff’s claim for mandamus relief and remanded for further proceedings. As plaintiff alleged, DOC was required by Vermont law, albeit not specifically and exclusively by the statute he identified in his complaint, to use a competitive bidding process in contracting for telephone services for inmates. The Court found plaintiff’s allegations were sufficient to confer standing and give fair notice to DOC of the claim and the grounds upon which it rested. View "Wool v. Menard" on Justia Law