Articles Posted in Contracts

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In 2009, RNB and GAF entered into an agreement under which GAF would promote RNB’s “Roof N Box” product, a three-dimensional roofing model, to building construction contractors affiliated with GAF. The agreement required the parties to submit disputes “arising under” the agreement to arbitration. GAF terminated the agreement after about a year. In 2016, RNB, together with its founder and president, Evans, brought suit against GAF based on GAF’s activities in marketing its own product that competes with the Roof N Box. The complaint alleged design patent infringement, trade dress infringement, and unfair competition. GAF moved to dismiss or stay the action pending arbitration. The district court denied that motion. The Federal Circuit affirmed, stating that GAF’s assertion that the arbitration provision covers the claims stated in the complaint is “wholly groundless.” The complaint challenges actions whose wrongfulness is independent of the 2009 agreement’s existence. View "Evans v. Building Materials Corp." on Justia Law

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The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the United States in Northwest Title Agency’s (NWTA) suit based on contracts, under which NWTA provided closing services for homes owned by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The courts concluded that the contracts unambiguously preclude NWTA from charging additional closing fees and declined to consider the affidavit of industry practice submitted by NWTA. The fee prohibition does not conflict with the buyers’ rights, as stated in the contracts, to retain a title company of their own choosing. View "Northwest Title Agency, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), a sub-agency of the Defense Logistics Agency, issued a solicitation for an Indefinite-Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity commercial item contract to provide food and non-food products to customers, including the military, in three overseas zones. In May 2003, DSCP awarded a contract to Agility to supply “Full Line Food and Non-Food Distribution” to authorized personnel in Kuwait and Qatar. After many modifications, in December 2005, Agility submitted a Request for Equitable Adjustment for $13.1 million related to trucks being held in Iraq by the government for longer than 29 days. In April 2007, the government’s contracting officer denied Agility’s claim. The Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals denied Agility’s appeal in August 2015, finding that Agility had accepted all risks associated with delays beyond 29 days. The Board stated that it “need not decide whether the government constructively changed contract performance or whether it breached its implied duty of cooperation” because “whether the government breached the contract comes down to contract interpretation.” The Federal Circuit affirmed-in-part, agreeing that the government did not breach the express terms of the contract or a later agreement to consider exceptions, but finding that the Board erred when it concluded that it “need not decide” Agility’s implied duty and constructive change claims. View "Agility Public Warehousing Co. KSCP v. Mattis" on Justia Law

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In 1994, Rocky Mountain and the Bureau of Land Management entered into the Helium Contract, giving Rocky Mountain the right, for up to 25 years, to extract helium gas from roughly 21,000 acres of federal lands in Colorado and Utah. Rocky Mountain never extracted helium from the property and, after one year, stopped paying rent. In 2004, the Bureau informed Rocky Mountain that it had cancelled the contract due to nonpayment. The parties entered into a Settlement Agreement, under which the Bureau was required to provide Rocky Mountain with data about gas composition on the land covered by the Helium Contract and Rocky Mountain had to pay $116,579.90 (back rent) so that the Helium Contract would be reinstated. Rocky Mountain subsequently objected that the Bureau's information as incomplete, refused to pay the $116,579.90, and informed the Bureau that it wanted to pursue mediation under the Agreement. When the parties were unable to agree whether the information was complete, the Bureau sent a termination letter. The Claims Court rejected Rocky Mountain’s breach of contract suit for lack of jurisdiction and on the merits. The Federal Circuit agreed that the Helium Contract was terminated in 2004 and never reinstated, but found that the court had jurisdiction over the Settlement Agreement dispute. View "Rocky Mountain Helium, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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Nutt was hit and killed by a U.S. Army soldier driving an Army truck in 1983. His family filed a claim under 28 U.S.C. 2674, the Federal Tort Claims Act. A 1985 Agreement provided that the government “agrees to purchase annuities which will pay:” $60,000 per year to Cynthia; lump-sum payments on specified anniversaries to Cynthia; lump-sum payments on specified anniversaries to James; plus $240,000 to Cynthia and a payment to the Nutts’ attorneys. The Agreement provided that “[t]he payments by the United States set forth above shall operate as full and complete discharge of all payments to be made to and of all claims which might be asserted.” The government purchased a structured annuity ELNY. ELNY went into receivership in 1991. In 2011, the New York State Liquidation Bureau informed the Nutts that their benefit payments would be reduced. In 2013, they began receiving payments reduced to approximately 45% of their expected benefits. They were informed that, as of 2015, they would not be receiving the anniversary payments. The Nutts alleged breach of the agreement. The Federal Circuit affirmed dismissal, finding that the government “was not obligated to guarantee or insure that annuity; its obligation ended at the initial purchase of the ELNY annuity.” View "Nutt v. United States" on Justia Law

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Freddie Mac is a privately-owned, publicly-chartered financial services corporation, 12 U.S.C. 1452, created to provide stability in the secondary residential mortgage market. Piszel began working as the CFO of Freddie Mac in 2006. Piszel with a signing bonus of $5 million in Freddie Mac restricted stock units that would vest over four years, an annual salary of $650,000, and performance-based incentive compensation of $3 million a year in restricted stock. If terminated without cause, Piszel would receive a lump-sum cash payment of double his annual salary and certain restricted stock units would continue to vest. In 2008, facing Freddie Mac's potential collapse, Congress passed the Housing and Economic Recovery Act,12 U.S.C. 4511, establishing the FHFA as Freddie Mac's new primary regulator, with authority to disaffirm any contract, after which damages for the breach would be limited to “actual direct compensatory damages.” The Act contained a limit on “golden parachutes.” Piszel alleges that he was terminated without cause and Freddie Mac “refused to provide him with any of the benefits to which he was contractually entitled.” The Claims Court dismissed his allegations of an unconstitutional taking. The Federal Circuit affirmed, noting that Piszel’s breach of contract claim remains intact despite the legislation, particularly in light of Piszel’s assertion that his contract called for “deferred compensation,” rather than a golden parachute. View "Piszel v. United States" on Justia Law

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Illumina’s 794 patent, covering DNA assay optimization techniques, issued in 2011. In 2010-2011, Ariosa provided Illumina, as a prospective investor, with information on its efforts to develop a noninvasive prenatal diagnostic test. Seven months after the 794 patent issued, Illumina agreed to supply consumables, hardware, and software to Ariosa for three years, providing Ariosa with a non-exclusive license to Illumina’s “Core IP Rights in Goods,” specifically excluding “Secondary IP Rights … that pertain to the Goods (and use thereof) only with regard to particular field(s) or application(s), and are not common to the Goods in all applications and fields.” The agreement’s arbitration clause excluded “disputes relating to issues of scope, infringement, validity and/or enforceability of any Intellectual Property Rights.” Illumina never indicated that Ariosa needed to license the 794 patent . Ariosa launched the Harmony Prenatal Test, using materials supplied by Illumina. Verinata and Stanford sued, alleging that the Test infringed other patents. Illumina later acquired Verinata and accused Ariosa of breaching the supply agreement by failing to license Secondary Rights. Ariosa filed counterclaims, asserting invalidity and non-infringement; breach of contract; and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The district court concluded that the counterclaims were not subject to compulsory arbitration. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The counterclaims depend on the scope determination of licensed intellectual property rights, which is expressly exempt from arbitration. View "Verinata Health, Inc. v. Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2003, the government awarded Laguna a contract for Worldwide Environmental Remediation and Construction (WERC). Under the contract, Laguna received 16 cost-reimbursable task orders to perform work in Iraq, and awarded subcontracts to several subcontractors. The physical work under the contract was completed by 2010. Laguna sought reimbursement of past costs, a portion of which the government refused to pay after an audit by the Defense Contract Audit Agency. Before the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, the government alleged that it was not liable because Laguna had committed a prior material breach by accepting subcontractor kickbacks (18 U.S.C. 371, 41 U.S.C. 53), excusing the government’s nonperformance. Three of Laguna’s officers were ultimately indicted for kickbacks. The Board granted the government summary judgment on that ground, The Federal Circuit affirmed. Laguna committed the first material breach by violating the contract’s Allowable Cost and Payment clause because its vouchers were improperly inflated to include the payment, Federal Acquisition Regulation 52.216-7. View "Laguna Constr. Co. v. Carter" on Justia Law

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In 2001, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) awarded Northrop an order for network monitoring software produced by Oakley for one base year and three option years. A subsequent modification required ICE to use best efforts to secure funding for the option years. Without notifying ICE, Northrop entered into a private agreement with ESCgov, an IT services company, assigning all payments under the order to ESCgov. ESCgov paid more than $3,000,000. The agreement absolved Northrop from liability for failure of ICE to exercise a renewal option if Northrop “use[d] its best efforts to obtain the maximum recovery.” ESCgov assigned its rights to Citizens, a financial institution. None of the parties provided notice, as required by the Anti-Assignment Act, 31 U.S.C. 3727(a)(2). ICE paid Northrop $900,000 for the base year, which it delivered to ESCgov. ICE did not use the software in any investigations, and sent Northrop notification of its decision not to exercise the first option year. ICE did not exercise any option year. A contracting officer declined a claim that ICE breached the contract by failing to use its best efforts. The Claims Court dismissed a lawsuit on grounds that it lacked jurisdiction because Northrop failed to provide “adequate notice” of its claim by failing to disclose the assignments. The Federal Circuit affirmed a second dismissal, following remand, agreeing that Northrop “is unable to identify any way that it, as opposed to ESCgov or Citizens, was harmed.” View "Northrop Grumman Computing Sys., Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Navy's Diego Garcia facility, a 10.5-square-acre Indian Ocean atoll, 1,800 miles east of Africa and 1,200 miles south of India, had no commercial or civilian infrastructure. In 2005, the Navy sought bids on a firm fixed-price contract for Diego Garcia support services, ranging from information technology to refuse collection. For contractor vehicles and equipment, “contractor-furnished fuel,” was to be provided by the Navy at the prevailing Department of Defense rate. DG21 submitted a bid and, for contractor-furnished fuel, arrived at “a significantly lower number of gallons than” reflected in the solicitation. DG21 indicated that if fuel rates varied from historical rates by 10% or more, it would request an equitable adjustment. The Navy clarified that the solicitation was fixed-price, “DG21 assumes the full risk of consumption and/or rate changes. Please price ... accordingly.” The Navy questioned the lack of an escalation clause. DG21 did not change its estimate or pricing, but removed the equitable adjustment reference. DG21’s $455,292,490 proposal was accepted. During the contract term, fuel prices rose dramatically, reaching a maximum of more than double the historical rate indicated in the solicitation. In 2011, DG21 requested an equitable adjustment, characterizing the fuel cost as a $1,171,475.90 contract “change” under FAR 52.243-4. The contracting officer and the Board of Contract Appeals rejected the request. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The cost increase was not a change to the contract triggering FAR 52.243-4; the contract allocated that risk to DG21. View "DG21, LLC v. Mabus" on Justia Law