The Contract Disputes Act (“CDA”) is probably not the first law that comes to mind when a government contractor is named as a defendant in a personal injury or wrongful death suit. But a recent decision from the U.S. Court of Federal Claims illustrates why the CDA ─ and its six-year statute of limitations ─ should be top of mind for any contractor that is sued in tort and wants the government to take over its defense or to reimburse its uninsured legal fees or settlement/judgment costs. The Court’s decision, which is the latest opinion in a long-running dispute, is an important reminder for contractors that are indemnified by the government for liabilities to third persons, including under clauses such as FAR 52.228-7, Insurance ─ Liability to Third Persons (MAR. 1996) and FAR 52.250-1, Indemnification under Public Law 85-804 (APR. 1984).

Continue Reading Time Stops for No One: COFC Reminds Indemnified Contractors to Mind the CDA Statute of Limitations

Earlier this Fall, the Armed Service Board of Contract Appeals dismissed an appeal for lack of jurisdiction because the certified claim lacked a proper signature. Appeal of NileCo General Contracting LLC, ASBCA No. 60912 (Sept. 22, 2017). This simple oversight proved decisive. Although this case does not chart a new course in Contract Disputes Act (CDA) jurisprudence, it serves as a helpful reminder that the Board’s jurisdiction hinges on compliance with basic requirements. Failing to meet any of those requirements could have significant consequences.
Continue Reading Government Contracts 101 Reminder: Certified Claims Must Include a “Signature”

Earlier this month, the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals held that the U.S. Army breached its contractual obligation to provide physical security to its principal logistical support contractor, KBR, during the height of the Iraq War.  As a consequence, the Board found that KBR was entitled to be reimbursed for $44 million, plus interest, in costs that the Government had withheld from KBR relating to KBR’s and its subcontractors’ use of private security.  A copy of the opinion is available here.

Continue Reading ASBCA Issues Important Ruling in “Contractor-on-the-Battlefield” Dispute

When must a party’s “defense” be asserted as a Contract Disputes Act (CDA) claim in order to raise that defense during a Court of Federal Claims or Board of Contract Appeals proceeding?

In Kansas City Power & Light Co. v. United States, the Court of Federal Claims moves us one step closer to solving this peculiar government contracts riddle called Maropakis.  In this decision, the court held that the government’s affirmative defense of offset was not a claim under the CDA, and therefore, did not need to be asserted through a contracting officer final decision before it could be raised before the court.  This decision is important because it further limits the applicability of the Maropakis doctrine and reinforces that Maropakis only applies to “defenses” that seek payment of money or the adjustment/interpretation of contract terms.


Continue Reading The Latest Clue to Solving the Maropakis Riddle: The Affirmative Defense of Offset

The Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (“ASBCA” or the “Board”) recently issued an opinion addressing several important, and controversial, topics of interest to government contractors.  The lengthy opinion addressed key issues related to the Board’s jurisdiction over government claims and affirmative defenses based on alleged contractor fraud, the Contract Disputes Act (“CDA”) statute of limitations, and the impact of criminal plea agreements and civil False Claims Act settlements on contract disputes.

Continue Reading ASBCA Addresses CDA Jurisdiction Over Claims Involving Contractor Fraud

Ever since the Federal Circuit held in M. Maropakis Carpentry, Inc. v. United States, 609 F.3d 1323, 1331 (Fed. Cir. 2010) that “a contractor seeking an adjustment of contract terms must meet the jurisdictional requirements and procedural prerequisites of the [Contract Disputes Act], whether asserting the claim against the government as an affirmative claim or as a defense to a government action[,]” contractors appealing a government claim or counterclaim have agonized over whether to incur the administrative burden and expense of submitting their potential defenses as a claim under the CDA or risk losing the ability to assert those defenses on appeal.  The Civilian Board of Contract Appeals’ (the “Board” or “CBCA”) recent decision in Jane Mobley Assocs., Inc. v. General Servs. Admin., offers some much needed clarity as to what types of defenses must first be raised as claims.  CBCA 2878, 2016 WL 73878 (Jan. 5, 2016).
Continue Reading Take it To the Limit: CBCA Limits Application of Maropakis Requirement to Initially Submit Certain Defenses to Government Actions as CDA Claims

On October 31, 2015, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (CoFC) in Horn & Associates, Inc. v. United States (No. 08-415C) rejected three fraud-based counterclaims that were filed by the U.S. Government in response to a breach of contract action brought by the plaintiff, Horn & Associates (Horn), through a certified claim under the Contract Disputes Act (CDA). The counterclaims were asserted under the Special Plea in Fraud statute, the False Claims Act, and the CDA, respectively. The CoFC dismissed the claims because the Government could not establish that Horn had intended for its certified claim to deceive the Government.

Horn is a cautionary tale for government contractors that submit certified claims under the CDA. As discussed below, Horn was vulnerable to fraud counterclaims because its certified claim was “prepared and presented [] in an unorthodox and unfamiliar manner,” with a confusing quantification and presentation of damages. Although the CoFC dismissed the counterclaims, its opinion could be limited to its particular facts, which involved an unusually difficult calculation of damages. A lesson to be learned, however, is that government contractors might avoid such confusion (and such opportunistic counterclaims) by having sufficient clarity and transparency in the preparation and presentation of their certified claims.
Continue Reading Contractor Defeats Government’s Opportunistic Allegations of Fraud