Justia Contracts Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals
Stockton E. Water Dist. v. United States
In 1983, Central entered into a contract with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for an appropriation of water from the New Melones Reservoir in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Upon enactment of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) in 1992, Reclamation made statements indicating that it would not be able to meet the quantity commitments in its contracts because of other demands for the water. In 1993, Central sued for breach of contract. After holding that breaches had occurred in certain years, the Federal Circuit reversed and remanded for determination of damages. The district court, on remand, awarded Central $149,950.00 in cost of cover damages, but denied any expectancy damages. The Federal Circuit reversed and remanded. The trial court erred by not properly considering the effect of Reclamation’s announced breaches on the amount of water that Central may have expected to need to meet demand. This caused the trial court to discount Central’s arguments regarding what would have happened in the non-breach world. View "Stockton E. Water Dist. v. United States" on Justia Law
Veridyne Corp. v. United States
Veridyne’s first contract to provide logistics services to the Maritime Administration (MARAD), was awarded pursuant to the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 8(a) program for small, disadvantage businesses, 15 U.S.C. 637(a). To obtain extension of the contract without it being submitted to bidding, Veridyne estimated that the new contract would not exceed “$3,000,000 in the aggregate.” Veridyne and MARAD officials knew that the services to be provided under the extension would cost far more than $3,000,000. MARAD proposed that SBA approve the new contract without opening it to competition. MARAD, Veridyne, and the SBA executed the new contract. From 2001 to 2004, MARAD issued additional work orders to Veridyne and paid Veridyne $31,134,931.12. In part due to MARAD’s cost overruns, the Office of Inspector General investigated and concluded that Veridyne had obtained the extension through fraud. After a stop order issued, Veridyne continued to work for MARAD and submitted additional invoices. Veridyne sued to recover $2,267,163. The government entered a defense under the Fraudulent Claims statute, 28 U.S.C. 2514, and counterclaimed for penalties under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729, and the Contracts Disputes Act, 41 U.S.C. 7103. The Claims Court held that Veridyne’s contract claim was forfeited under the Fraudulent Claims Act, but awarded Veridyne partial recovery under a quantum meruit theory, while awarding penalties to the government under the False Claims Act and the Contract Disputes Act. The Federal Circuit reversed the quantum meruit award, but affirmed the award of penalties.View "Veridyne Corp. v. United States" on Justia Law
Krauser v. Biohorizons, Inc.
In 1987, Krauser, a periodontist, designed a dental implant system. He paid BHI’s predecessor to produce drawings and prototypes. In1991, the parties entered into a written agreement that specified that Krauser would develop new products for the company to produce and sell and that the drawings were “property of [BHI].” Krauser was entitled to royalties. Krauser obtained a patent covering one component of the system and listing Krauser as the inventor. The company subsequently secured patents covering dental implant systems, naming Shaw as the sole inventor. Krauser sued the company and Shaw for a declaration of ownership rights and for copyright and patent infringement. While the suits were pending, the company filed for bankruptcy, and Krauser filed claims in bankruptcy court. In a settlement agreement, Krauser granted the company a 10-year patent license and “all rights . . . [to] the dental implant system currently being manufactured.” The bankruptcy court approved the agreement. Later, several patents on dental implant systems issued to BHI. None listed Krauser as an inventor. Krauser alleged that BHI failed to pay the full amount of royalties or submit to required audits and claimed default. The district court granted BHI summary judgment, construing the settlement to apply only to implants being manufactured in 1996, not implants manufactured at the time of litigation, and finding that Krauser had no ownership rights. The Eleventh Circuit transferred the case “[b]ecause the Federal Circuit has exclusive appellate jurisdiction … relating to patents.” The Federal Circuit transferred the case back, noting that Krauser had dropped his claim of inventorship. View "Krauser v. Biohorizons, Inc." on Justia Law
Kingdomware Techs, Inc. v. United States
Kingdomware is a VA-certified service-disabled veteran-owned small business. The Small Business Act, 15 U.S.C. ch. 14A, states that small businesses generally will receive “a fair proportion of the total purchases and contracts for property and services for the Government.” Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSBs) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs) are expressly recognized in the Small Business Act and the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), 48 C.F.R. ch. 1, which implements the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act, 41 U.S.C. ch. 7. Agency-specific contract regulations are stated in the Veterans Affairs Acquisition Regulation (VAAR), 48 C.F.R. ch. 8. In 2012, the VA decided to implement an Emergency Notification Service in medical centers. The VA contracting officer chose to use the General Services Administration (GSA) Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) to procure the needed services, and awarded the contract to a FSS vendor which was not a VOSB. Kingdomware filed a bid protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which rejected the VA’s argument, and issued a recommendation that the VA cancel the award. The VA did not acquiesce. The Claims Court upheld the VA determination, interpreting 38 U.S.C. 8127(c), concerning use of restricted competition, as not creating a mandatory set-aside. The overarching policy of the FAR generally demands ‘full and open competition,” which is deemed satisfied by FSS contracts. The FAR specifies that an agency is encouraged to obtain goods and services from FSS contractors before purchasing from commercial sources, which include privately owned VOSBs and SDVOSBs. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Kingdomware Techs, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law
SUFI Network Servs, Inc. v. United States
In 1996, the Air Force entered into a contract under which SUFI would install and operate telephone systems in guest lodgings on bases in Europe at no cost to the government; the Air Force agreed that SUFI network was to be the exclusive method available to a guest placing telephone calls at the lodging. The contract permitted SUFI to block other networks and required the Air Force to remove or disable preexisting Defense Switched Network (DSN) telephone lines in hallways and lobbies, but DSN phones remained in place. Call records showed that, with Air Force assistance, guests often placed multiple or lengthy individual calls. After the Air Force declined to implement controls to curb DSN and patched-call abuse, SUFI blocked guest-room access to the DSN operator numbers but permitted morale calls from lobby phones, monitored by sign-in logs. Air Force personnel failed to require guests to sign the logs and gave guests new DSN access numbers, to circumvent SUFI’s charges. After failed attempts to resolve the situation, including through the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, SUFI sold the telephone system to the Air Force for $2.275 million and submitted claims, totaling $130.3 million, to the contracting officer. The officer denied the claims, except for $132,922 on a claim involving use of calling-cards. The Board later awarded $7.4 million in damages, plus interest. In an action under the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. 1491, the Court of Federal Claims awarded $118.76 million in damages, plus interest. The Federal Circuit vacated in part and remanded for additional findings. View "SUFI Network Servs, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law
Monsanto Co. v. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
Monsanto developed a genetic modification in soybean seeds (Roundup Ready® (RR)), known as the 40-3-2 event (RR trait), which enables soybean plants to tolerate application of glyphosate herbicide to kill weeds. Monsanto owns the patent for the RR trait and granted Pioneer a license to produce and sell seeds containing the traits. After Pioneer became a subsidiary of DuPont, Monsanto and Pioneer entered into an amended license, under which DuPont produced and sold RR trait seed. In 2006, DuPont announced that it had developed a glyphosate-tolerant trait, OGAT, expected to confer tolerance to both glyphosate and acetolactate synthase inhibitor herbicide. Testing indicated that OGAT alone did not provide sufficient glyphosate-tolerance for commercial use. DuPont then combined OGAT with the RR trait; the OGAT/RR stack provided increased yields in field trials. DuPont did not sell any OGAT/RR product, however, and discontinued development. Monsanto sued DuPont for breach of the license and patent infringement. The district court granted partial judgment to Monsanto, holding that the license was unambiguous and did not grant the right to stack non-RR technologies with the licensed” trait, but allowed DuPont to amend its answer to assert reformation counterclaims and defenses. The court ultimately told DuPont to “either voluntarily dismiss these reformation claims or produce … all documents … previously withheld.” DuPont continued litigating its reformation counterclaims and produced previously withheld internal e-mails that showed its awareness that it did not have the right to commercialize the OGAT/RR stack. The court found that DuPont’s position was not rooted in fact, that DuPont made misrepresentations and had perpetrated a fraud on the court, struck DuPont’s reformation defense and counterclaims, and awarded limited attorney fees to Monsanto. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Monsanto Co. v. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co." on Justia Law
Shell Oil Co. v. United States
Following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, each of the Oil Companies entered into contracts with the government to provide high-octane aviation gas (avgas) to fuel military aircraft. The production of avgas resulted in waste products such as spent alkylation acid and “acid sludge.” The Oil Companies contracted to have McColl, a former Shell engineer, dump the waste at property in Fullerton, California. More than 50 years later, California and the federal government obtained compensation from the Oil Companies under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. 9601, for the cost of cleaning up the McColl site. The Oil Companies sued, arguing the avgas contracts require the government to indemnify them for the CERCLA costs. The Court of Federal Claims granted summary judgment in favor of the government. The Federal Circuit reversed with respect to breach of contract liability and remanded. As a concession to the Oil Companies, the avgas contracts required the government to reimburse the Oil Companies for their “charges.” The court particularly noted the immense regulatory power the government had over natural resources during the war and the low profit margin on the avgas contracts. View "Shell Oil Co. v. United States" on Justia Law
Lakeshore Eng’g Servs., Inc. v. United States
In 2006, the U.S. Army Contracting Agency solicited bids for repair, maintenance, and construction services at Fort Rucker, Alabama, with indefinite delivery and quantity terms. The mechanism for pricing such jobs involves identification of costs and multiplication by certain “coefficients” set in the contract. It was well known that construction costs in the region had increased after Hurricane Katrina, 15 months before the government solicited bids. The Army awarded the contract to Lakeshore in 2007. In 2008, Lakeshore began 78 construction projects at Fort Rucker. When the Army exercised its option to extend the contract, it increased payments based on the contract’s price-adjustment clause. Lakeshore began 74 more delivery orders. After two years under the contract, Lakeshore concluded that it had incurred higher costs than were covered by payments under the contract and requested an equitable adjustment. The government denied the request. Acting under the Contract Disputes Act, 41 U.S.C. 7101, the contracting officer denied a claim for recovery of $1,996,152.40. The Claims Court rejected claims of breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of implied warranty, and mistake on summary judgment, stating that the government was not obliged to provide accurate local prices or to bear “economic consequences if one or more prices in the guide proved inaccurate.” The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Lakeshore Eng'g Servs., Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law
Endo Pharm. Inc. v. Actavis, Inc.
Endo sells Opana® ER extended-release tablets containing a painkiller, oxymorphone. In earlier litigation, Endo sued Roxane and Actavis for patent infringement, 35 U.S.C. 271(e)(2)(A), based on their Abbreviated New Drug Applications to market generic versions of Opana® ER. The lawsuits settled; Endo granted defendants a license and a covenant not to sue. After making the agreements the 122 and 216 patents issued to Endo. They are continuations of the same parent application and directed to extended-release oxymorphone compositions and methods of treating pain using those compositions. Endo also acquired the unrelated 482 patent, concerning purified oxymorphone compositions and methods of making those compositions. The asserted patents are listed in the Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations (Orange Book) entry for Opana® ER. Endo again sued for infringement and sought a preliminary injunction to prevent marketing or sales of generic oxymorphone formulations. The district court held that Endo was estopped from claiming that the activity of defendants, “which has gone on for a substantial period of time, is now suddenly barred because of these new patents.” The Federal Circuit vacated, finding that the defendants did not have an express or implied license to practice the patents at issue.View "Endo Pharm. Inc. v. Actavis, Inc." on Justia Law
Energy Recovery, Inc. v. Hauge
Hauge and his former employer, ERI, disputed ownership of intellectual property rights related to “pressure exchangers,” a type of energy recovery device used in reverse osmosis. In 2001 they entered into an Agreement. The district court adopted the Agreement, holding that ERI was to be the sole owner of three U.S. patents and one pending patent application. After expiration of the Agreement’s non-compete clause, in 2004, Hauge filed a patent application, titled “Pressure Exchanger,” and a utility application. The patent issued in 2007, describing “[a] pressure exchanger for transferring pressure energy from a high-pressure fluid stream to low-pressure fluid stream.” In 2009, Hauge’s new company, Isobarix, unsuccessfully attempted to reach a new agreement with ERI. Isobarix began selling a pressure exchanger, called “XPR.” Hauge entered into a consulting agreement with two ERI employees. ERI sought an Order to Show Cause, in 2012, submitting an expert’s declaration that Isobarix was using pressure exchanger technology from pre-March 19, 2001 in design and manufacture of XPR, which is “virtually identical to the ERI pressure exchanger” in operation. The court entered a Contempt Order, finding that allowing Hauge to develop new products using technology he assigned to ERI solely because the new inventions post-date the Agreement would render the Agreement useless. The Federal Circuit vacated, finding that Hauge did not violate the “four corners” of the 2001 Order. View "Energy Recovery, Inc. v. Hauge" on Justia Law