Justia U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Government Contracts

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The court affirmed the denial of a motion to intervene in a False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729-3733, suit brought by the Government against Sprint because the movant did not meet the requirements in the four-part test set out in Sw. Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Berg. John C. Prather had filed an earlier qui tam suit against Sprint and others, alleging the companies were defrauding federal and state governments. The Government elected not to intervene and the district court later dismissed Prather's suit for lack of jurisdiction. The Government then filed its own FCA suit against Sprint and the district court denied Prather's motion to intervene based on lack of standing. As a preliminary matter, the court agreed with the Fourth Circuit that the parties' settlement and dismissal of a case after the denial of a motion to intervene does not as a rule moot a putative-intervenor's appeal. Here, the Government's settlement agreement with Sprint and the dismissal of the underlying action did not moot this appeal. On the merits, Prather lacked a significantly protectable interest in this case, the statute's qui tam recovery provisions in section 3730(d) did not apply to relators jurisdictionally barred under section 3730(e)(4); and Prather cannot obtain a monetary bounty under the FCA on his jurisdictionally barred claims. View "United States v. Sprint Communications" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a state government attorney for over thirty years, filed a qui tam suit under the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729-3733, alleging that the largest telecom companies in the United States were fraudulently overcharging the federal government for surveillance services. The district court dismissed the suit pursuant to the FCA's public disclosure bar. The court concluded that the 2010 Amendments to the FCA, which transformed the public disclosure bar from a jurisdictional bar to an affirmative defense, do not apply to plaintiff's suit brought in 2009 because substantive changes, which impact the substantive rights of parties, are not applied retroactively; plaintiff did not have direct knowledge of fraud sufficient to qualify as an "original source;" and plaintiff's submissions to the FCC were not "voluntarily provided" as required by the statute. Furthermore, the court concluded that the district court properly determined that it did not have discretion to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's state law claims without jurisdiction over the federal claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Prather v. AT&T" on Justia Law

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Relator filed a qui tam suit against his former employer, Serco, under the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729-3733, alleging, inter alia, that the company submitted fraudulent claims for payment to the United States for work done under a government contract. The district court granted summary judgment for Serco. In Universal Health Servs., Inc. v. United States ex rel. Escobar, the Supreme Court rejected the contention that a government contract or regulation must expressly designate a requirement as a condition of payment in order to trigger liability under the theory of implied certification. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on relator's FCA claim for submitting false or fraudulent claims for payment under an implied false certification theory of liability. In this case, relator has failed to establish a genuine issue of material fact regarding the materiality of Serco’s obligations to comply with ANSI-748 or provide valid EVM reports. The court concluded that no reasonable jury could return a verdict for relator given the demanding standard required for materiality under the FCA, the government’s acceptance of Serco’s reports despite their non-compliance with ANSI-748, and the government’s payment of Serco’s public vouchers for its work under Delivery Orders 49 and 54. The court also concluded that relator failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact regarding the submission of a false or fraudulent claim. Finally, the court rejected relator's conspiracy claim, FCA claim for wrongful retention of overpayments; and Tameny claim for wrongful termination. View "United States ex rel. Kelly v. Serco" on Justia Law

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Caltex filed suit for breach of contract and unfair competition against Lockheed, arguing that some contracts between Lockheed and the United States government require Lockheed to use certain materials that only Caltex is authorized to supply, and that Caltex is therefore the intended third-party beneficiary of those contracts. Caltex also claims that Lockheed’s failure to use such materials is an unfair or unlawful business practice under California law. The district court dismissed Caltex’s complaint for failure to state a claim. The court held that the uniquely federal interest in the liability of defense contractors to third parties is sufficiently dominant to demand a uniform, federal rule. Thus, whether Caltex may sue Lockheed based upon Lockheed’s contracts with the federal government is governed by federal common law. In this case, Caltex has not sufficiently alleged that it is an intended third-party beneficiary of the contracts between Lockheed and the federal government. Caltex's allegations do not expressly state, nor even suggest, that Lockheed or the federal government intended to grant Caltex enforceable rights under their contracts. They also do not suggest that either party had Caltex in mind when drafting their contracts. The court held that, under federal common law, an incidental third-party beneficiary of a contract, such as Caltex, has no enforceable rights under that contract. Finally, Caltex has failed to state a plausible unlawful or unfair competition claim. The court affirmed the judgment. View "Caltex Plastics v. Lockheed Martin" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a qui tam suit under the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729–3733, alleging fraud in the performance of a Government contract. The district court dismissed the suit. The court agreed with plaintiff that the district court erred in holding that the complaint was based upon prior public disclosures and was thus precluded by the public disclosure bar of the FCA. In this case, the complaint alleges fraud that is different in kind and degree from the previously disclosed information about Raytheon’s problems in performing on the contract at issue. As such, if his allegations prove to be true, plaintiff will undoubtedly have been one of those whistle-blowing insiders with genuinely valuable information, rather than an opportunistic plaintiff who has no significant information to contribute. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "United States ex rel Mateski v. Raytheon" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed his dismissal from a qui tam suit concerning the billing practices of government contractor CH2M Hill. The court held, as a matter of first impression, that the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3730(d)(3), requires the dismissal of a qui tam relator convicted of the conduct giving rise to the fraud, even if he or she only played a minor role. In this case, plaintiff, like many of his colleagues, submitted false time cards, and, as a result, received at least $50,000 for falsely claimed overtime hours. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Schroeder v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, the family members and a former coworker of three Americans who were kidnapped and killed while providing contract security services during the U.S. military occupation of Iraq, brought suit against U.S. government officials challenging policies governing the supervision of private contractors and the response to the kidnappings of American citizens in Iraq (“policy claims”) and claiming that the government was withholding back pay, insurance proceeds, and government benefits owed to the families of the deceased contractors (“monetary claims”). The district court dismissed Plaintiffs’ claims. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part, holding that the district court (1) correctly dismissed the policy claims for lack of standing and for presenting nonjusticiable political questions; but (2) erred in dismissing the monetary claims for failure to establish a waiver of the government’s sovereign immunity from suits for damages and for failure to state a claim, as, although Plaintiffs failed to allege a governmental waiver of sovereign immunity that would confer jurisdiction in the district court over the monetary claims, the United States Court of Federal Claims had jurisdiction over the claims for withheld back pay and insurance proceeds. Remanded for the district court to transfer those claims. View "Munns v. Kerry" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit on behalf of himself and a putative class, alleging claims under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 42 U.S.C. 227(b)(1)(A)(iii), that Campbell-Ewald instructed or allowed a third-party vendor to send unsolicited text messages on behalf of the Navy, with whom Campbell-Ewald had a marketing contract. The district court granted summary judgment to Campbell-Ewald under the doctrine of derivative sovereign immunity. The court rejected Campbell-Ewald's claim that the personal and putative class claims were mooted by petitioner's refusal to accept the settlement offer; Campbell-Ewald's constitutional claims were unavailing where the company relied upon a flawed application of First Amendment principles; the TCPA imposes vicarious liability where an agency relationship, as defined by federal common law, is established between the defendant and a third-party caller; and the application of the doctrine of derivative sovereign immunity is inapplicable in this case. Because Campbell-Ewald failed to demonstrate that it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings.View "Gomez v. Campbell-Ewald Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Planned Parenthood under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729-3733, alleging that Planned Parenthood knowingly and falsely overbilled state and federal governments for contraceptives supplied to low-income individuals. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint on the alternative ground that the complaint did not state plausible claims for relief. Even assuming that the third amended complaint sufficiently alleged falsity, it did not satisfy Rule 8(a), which requires a plausible claim that Planned Parenthood knowingly made false claims, with the statutory scienter. Because plaintiff's own complaint attachments defeated the plausibility of his allegations, and because he had already amended his complaint several times, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying him further leave to amend. The district court also correctly concluded that plaintiff's claims under state law were time-barred. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Gonzalez v. Planned Parenthood" on Justia Law

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The Canal Authority appealed the district court's decision to grant summary judgment in favor of Interior, Bureau, San Luis, and Wetlands, in a suit to establish priority water rights under Central Valley Project (CVP) water service contracts. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants, holding that all claims arising before February 11, 2004 were time-barred and that Canal Authority was not entitled to priority water allocation under the CVP contracts. The court affirmed the district court's decision on the alternative basis that California Water Code 11460 did not require the Bureau to provide CVP contractors priority water rights, because contracts between the Canal Authority and Bureau contained provisions that specifically address allocation of water during shortage periods. View "Tehama-Colusa Canal Auth. v. U.S. Dept. of Interior" on Justia Law