Justia Government Contracts Opinion Summaries

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Citynet filed a qui tam action against West Virginia officials, alleging that defendants defrauded the United States when obtaining federal funding for a program to improve broadband connectivity for West Virginia residents, in violation of the False Claims Act (FCA). Specifically, Citynet alleged that Defendants Gianato and Given, respectively the Director of the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the State Technology Officer, along with other defendants, knowingly submitted false statements and records to the United States as part of their application for funding under the federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and, once the funding was obtained, made false claims in drawing down funds under the Program.The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court's immunity ruling and remanded with instructions to deny Gianato and Given's claim of qualified immunity. Because the district court's ruling was contingent on the answer to the threshold legal question of whether qualified immunity may be invoked as a defense to FCA claims, the court exercised appellate jurisdiction and held that qualified immunity does not apply to protect government officials from claims against them for fraud under the Act. View "United States ex rel. Citynet, LLC v. Gianato" 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

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The U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) awarded contracts for the opportunity to sell information technology services to various federal government agencies. Inserso did not receive an award; its total evaluated price was the 23rd lowest in a competition for 20 slots. DISA attached a debriefing document to its notice, including the total evaluated price for the awardees and some previously undisclosed information on how DISA evaluated the cost element of the proposals. Inserso sent follow-up communications, noting that several awardees in the small-business competition had also competed in the full-and-open competition as part of joint ventures or partnerships. Inserso asked whether those entities had received similarly detailed debriefings and expressed concern that, if so, the earlier debriefing would have provided unequal information giving a competitive advantage to some bidders. DISA stated that all unsuccessful bidders in both competitions were given similarly detailed information. The Federal Circuit ruled in favor of the government. Because Inserso did not object to the solicitation before the awards, when it was unreasonable to disregard the high likelihood of the disclosure at issue, Inserso forfeited its ability to challenge the solicitation. The court did not reach the issue of whether DISA’s disclosure prejudiced Inserso. View "Inserso Corp v. United States" on Justia Law

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Oliva worked for the VA, 2000-2016. In 2015, Oliva challenged the VA’s issuance of a letter of reprimand for Oliva accusing a supervisor of improperly pre-selecting an applicant for a position; Oliva claimed that his email constituted protected whistleblowing. Under a Settlement Agreement, the VA agreed to provide a written reference and the assurance of a positive verbal reference, if requested; Oliva’s Waco supervisor would not mention the retracted reprimand. Oliva was terminated from his employment in April 2016, for performance reasons. Oliva claims that the VA twice breached the Settlement: in March 2015, when Oliva applied for a position in the VA’s El Paso medical center the reprimand letter was disclosed and in February 2016, when Oliva applied for a position in the VA’s Greenville healthcare center a Waco employee disclosed that Oliva was on a Temporary Duty Assignment.The Claims Court held that Oliva’s complaint plausibly alleged breaches of the Agreement that resulted in the loss of future employment opportunities. Oliva sought $289,564 in lost salary and lost relocation pay of either $86,304 or $87,312. The Claims Court then held that Oliva had not stated plausible claims to recover lost salary or relocation pay. The Federal Circuit reversed. Oliva plausibly claimed that the alleged breaches were the cause of his lost salary. Oliva’s termination from his Waco job does not undercut that plausibility. View "Oliva v. United States" on Justia Law

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Ginnie Mae (GM), established by 12 U.S.C. 1717(a)(2)(A) to provide stability in the secondary residential mortgage market and promote access to mortgage credit, guarantees mortgage-backed securities (MBS). FMC, a private corporation, was an originator and servicer of government-guaranteed home mortgages and an issuer of MBS in GM’s program. GM learned of FMC actions that constituted the immediate default of the Guaranty Agreements. FMC undertook an investigation and provided the results to GM, while also complying with SEC requests. GM later terminated FMC from its program. The SEC initiated a civil enforcement action, which terminated in a consent agreement, without FMC admitting or denying the allegations but paying disgorgement and penalties. The Consent Agreement provided that it did not affect FMC’s right to take positions in proceedings in which the SEC is not a party but FMC agreed to not take any action or permit any public statement denying any allegation in the SEC complaint FMC later sued, alleging that GM had breached Guaranty Agreements when it terminated FMC from its program and denied violating those Agreements.The Federal Circuit affirmed the Claims Court’s dismissal. FMC’s breach of contract claims are precluded under the doctrine of res judicata. FMC’s action is essentially a collateral attack on the judgment entered in the SEC action. The SEC and GM are in privity for the purposes of precluding FMC’s claims and “successful prosecution of the second action would nullify the initial judgment or would impair rights established in the initial action.” View "First Mortgage Corp. v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the Expedited Declaratory Judgment Act (EDJA), Tex. Gov't Code ch. 1205, gave the trial court jurisdiction to declare whether contracts executed by the San Jacinto River Authority were legal and valid but not whether the Authority complied with the contracts in setting specific water rates.The Authority, which has contracts to sell water to cities and other customers and uses the revenue to pay off its bonds, filed suit seeking declarations under the EDJA regarding the contracts and the water rates set under those contracts. Several participants, including three cities (Cities) opted in as interested parties. The Cities filed pleas to the jurisdiction, arguing that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate the Authority's claims. The trial court denied the pleas to the jurisdiction. The court of appeals held primarily for the Authority. The Supreme Court held (2) the EDJA permits the trial court to exercise jurisdiction over the Authority's claims as to the valid execution of the contracts, but it does not confer jurisdiction over whether the Authority complied with the contracts in setting specific water rates; and (2) the Cities' governmental immunity does not bar an EDJA claim, which is brought in rem to adjudicate interests in property. View "City of Conroe, Texas v. San Jacinto River Authority" on Justia Law

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Holloway, the qui tam relator, sued Heartland Hospice and related entities under the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729-3733, for orchestrating a corporate-wide scheme to submit false claims for payments from Medicare and Medicaid to cover hospice care. Heartland allegedly enrolled patients in hospice when they were not terminally ill and kept them there, even when employees like Holloway urged their release and allegedly paid bonuses for the recruitment of hospice patients. Heartland argued that Holloway is not a genuine whistleblower, that her claims are drawn from prior allegations against Heartland so that her qui tam action is prohibited by the FCA’s public-disclosure bar. In the alternative, Heartland argued that Holloway has not satisfied the FCA’s heightened pleading standard for allegations of fraud or the limited exception to that standard.The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Holloway’s action as barred in light of prior public disclosures. Even if South Carolina complaints, dismissed in 2008, were focused on a single hospice facility, the allegations against Heartland as a whole were sufficiently general and alike to those alleged here such that the government was put on notice of the corporate-wide conduct alleged in this case. Holloway’s claims are barred by the pre-amendment public-disclosure bar. View "Holloway v. Heartland Hospice, Inc." on Justia Law

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Relator appealed the district court's dismissal of his Fifth Amended Complaint, which asserts claims under the False Claims Act and related state laws against certain healthcare providers, physician oncology practices, and group purchasing organizations. Relator alleged that defendants conspired with Amgen, a pharmaceutical company, to purchase Amgen drugs at discounted rates with knowledge that Amgen would fail to report the discounts to government agencies.Although the Second Circuit held that relator's appeal was timely, the court did not reach the merits of his appeal. Rather, the court vacated and remanded for the district court to determine whether the False Claims Act's public disclosure bar applies to relator's claims--a jurisdictional question the district court elided when it dismissed relator's complaint on other grounds. View "United States ex rel. Hanks v. Florida Cancer Specialists" on Justia Law

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The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) issued a solicitation for the procurement of information technology solutions for various agencies. DISA would award several indefinite-delivery/quantity contracts; task orders issued under the contracts would provide for either cost-reimbursement (CR) or fixed-price (FP) payment. DISA identified 116 labor categories (LCATs) that would likely be required for the work required by the task orders, described the duties associated with each LCAT, and identified the minimum education and experience requirements. DISA would make awards to the lowest-priced, technically acceptable proposals after considering: technical/management approach; past performance; and cost/price. Each bidder was to provide detailed information for all proposed CR labor rates. DISA would perform a cost realism analysis on the proposed CR labor rates and develop an average using the proposed CR rates and calculate the standard deviation for each labor rate.DISA determined that many of Agile’s proposed CR rates fell more than one standard deviation below average rates and that for these rates Agile had based its proposed rates on salaries paid to pools of workers who did not meet minimum requirements. Agile's final proposal yielded a “total evaluated price” that was not among the 20 lowest-priced, technically-acceptable offerors. Agile filed a protest, arguing that DISA violated the solicitation by expanding “its cost realism analysis to all labor rates in Agile’s [FPR], regardless of whether they were more than one standard deviation below the average.” The Claims Court concluded that DISA did not limit itself to only performing cost realism analysis on labor rates that were more than one standard deviation below the average. The Federal Circuit affirmed the rejection of the bid protest. DISA did not contravene the terms of the solicitation when it reviewed the supporting documentation for labor rates. View "Agile Defense, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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In 2015, CPA’s predecessor was awarded Defense contracts to provide stevedoring and terminal services along the Eastern Seaboard, including Charleston. The contracts incorporated a Federal Acquisition Regulation provision that gave the government options to extend the term of the agreement for up to four one-year periods by giving “preliminary written notice of its intent to extend at least 60 days before the contract expire[d].” Such notice did not obligate the government to exercise the option. After the preliminary notice, the government was required to exercise the option itself within 15 days of the expiration date. On June 15, 2016, the government exercised the first-year option.During the extension period, CPA purchased its predecessor and began seeking revised pricings, asserting that it might default because the contracts were not profitable. On January 31, 2017, the government’s contracting officer sent an email to CPA, stating: The Government intends to exercise options at awarded rates … expects [CPA] to continue performing per the terms. A May 3, 2017, formal letter to CPA, stated the government's intent to extend the contract through 30 June 2018. CPA responded that the notice was untimely. The government pointed to the January 31 email as the preliminary written notice. In July 2017, CPA sought a declaration that the contract had expired and additional money for its performance under protest. A contracting officer denied the claims. The Board of Contracts Appeals and the Federal Circuit affirmed. The government satisfied the preliminary notice requirement; the email unambiguously provided preliminary written notice of the government’s intent to extend at least 60 days before the contract expired on May 1, 2017. View "Cooper/Ports America, LLC v. Secretary of Defense" on Justia Law