On August 5, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that a French banker may seek dismissal of an indictment  without having to physically appear in the United States.  The decision limits the application of the “fugitive disentitlement” doctrine – which has long prevented foreign nationals from challenging criminal prosecutions without appearing in the United States to do so.

Continue Reading The Second Circuit Court of Appeals Finds That French Banker Need Not Travel to the United States to Seek Dismissal of Her Indictment

Ignore our prior prediction—the U.S. Court of Federal Claims definitely is NOT remanding the protest by Medline Industries, Inc. (“Medline Protest’) to the agencies for corrective action.  In a surprisingly scathing opinion issued June 22, 2021 by Judge David A. Tapp, the court made one thing very clear—the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (“VA”) transfer of its Medical Surgical Prime Vendor (“MSPV 2.0”) requirements to the Defense Logistics Agency (“DLA”) is dead on arrival.  After issuing a brief order on June 17 denying remand to the agencies for corrective action, the court detailed its reasoning in an opinion issued in a parallel protest filed by Owens & Minor Distribution, Inc. challenging (slightly) different aspects of the shifting MSPV 2.0 procurement (“O&M Protest”).  The government had moved for remand in both protests, and because the Medline Protest and O&M Protest involved the same parties and many common operative facts, the court issued a single opinion denying remand in both—and telegraphing that the outlook for the government in both cases is grim.  Piling on, the court took a few shots at the government for its litigation conduct and (more generally) its lack of acquisition planning.

Continue Reading Duck Hunt – The VA Cannot Escape The Medline Protest, And Takes A Few Shots In The Process

On April 24, 2020, in Taylor Lohmeyer Law Firm PLLC v. United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that a Texas-based estate and tax-planning law firm (“Taylor Lohmeyer” or the “firm”) could not invoke the attorney-client privilege to quash a summons by the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) seeking the identities of firm clients.  See No. 19-50506, Dkt. No. 00515394156 (5th Cir. Apr. 24, 2020).  In affirming the District Court’s decision, the Court of Appeals ruled that Taylor Lohmeyer could not use the privilege as a “blanket” to circumvent compliance with the summons, but may have viable arguments to shield disclosure of specific documents through the use of a privilege log.
Continue Reading Fifth Circuit: Client Identity Not Privileged in IRS Probe

On June 24, 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that Exemption 4 of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), which protects from public disclosure “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person [that is] privileged or confidential,” does not require a showing of substantial competitive harm for information to qualify as “confidential.” The Court’s ruling represents a sea-change in how the Government must protect information under this important exemption.
Continue Reading OH SNAP! Supreme Court Rejects Substantial Competitive Harm Test For Key FOIA Exemption

On January 11, 2019, the Supreme Court granted a petition for writ of certiorari over an Eighth Circuit decision involving Exemption 4 of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), which protects from public disclosure “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential.” This marks the first time the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving this important exemption.
Continue Reading OH SNAP! Supreme Court to Take on Meaning of Key FOIA Exemption

2016 was a big year for the False Claims Act (FCA).  Total government recoveries were up; total new matters filed were up; and total new government-led FCA matters were up.  The Supreme Court issued multiple decisions relating to the FCA, including one—Universal Health Services, Inc. v. U.S. ex rel. Escobar, 136 S. Ct. 1989 (2016)—which will have dramatic ramifications for litigation relating to the FCA’s materiality standard.  The Supreme Court also denied certiorari in an important FCA case—U.S. ex rel. Purcell v. MWI, Inc., 807 F.3d 281 (D.C. Cir. 2015), reh’g en banc denied, cert. denied, 580 U.S. ___ (2017)[1]—in which the D.C. Circuit held that when a defendant adopts an objectively reasonable or plausible interpretation of an ambiguous regulatory term and the agency has not warned the defendant away from its interpretation via authoritative guidance, the FCA’s scienter element cannot be established.  (Note: We previously covered the Purcell decision on our FCA blog.  You can view our article, here.)  Although some of these developments may seem concerning, there is plenty of silver lining here for government contractors.
Continue Reading What’s Past is Prologue: How The FCA’s Eventful Year in 2016 Will Affect Government Contractors

In 2011, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) stated that “[i]t’s not necessarily the wisest move for a company” to challenge the definition of “foreign official” under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), and that “[q]uibbling over the percentage ownership or control of a company is not going to be particularly helpful as a defense.”[1] The DOJ’s prophecy rang true in the Eleventh Circuit’s recent decision in U.S. v. Esquenazi, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 9096 (11th Cir. 2014).

Continue Reading DOJ’s FCPA Enforcement Power Gets A Big Boost

By Christopher E. Hale

Contractors pursuing claims against the government under the Contract Disputes Act (“CDA”) can often fall victim to the jurisdictional pitfalls of the Act from the very start of the claims process, i.e., with the claim itself. After a contracting officer denies a claim under the CDA, a contractor can appeal the decision to either a Board of Contracts Appeals or the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. However, there is no shortage of cases in which such appeals are dismissed for lack of jurisdiction because the original requests for payment did not constitute “claims” under the CDA.


Continue Reading Avoiding “Embarrassment” In Contract Disputes Act Litigation: Routine vs. Non-Routine Requests For Payment

By Alex Major

In March 2010, a federal district court in Texas ruled that the deaths and injuries sustained by a group of civilian convoy drivers in Iraq during insurgent attacks were not “accidents” caused by conditions of their employment and were, therefore, outside the scope of the protections afforded to contractors by the Defense Base Act (“DBA”). 42 U.S.C. § 1651, et seq. Fisher v. Halliburton, 703 F. Supp. 2d. 639 (S.D. Tex. 2010). We previously described and criticized the district court decision in this blog, noting that it was now unclear how, exactly, the DBA would fare in future litigation. But on January 12, 2012, the Fifth Circuit restored clarity— and common sense—to the application of the DBA by recognizing that the facts in Fisher presented “the quintessential case of a compensable injury arising from a third party’s assault”. Holding the DBA to be the exclusive remedy for damages, the Fifth Circuit vacated the district court’s decision and remanded the case for further proceedings. Fisher v. Halliburton, 2012 WL 90136 (5th Cir. 2012).


Continue Reading Fisher v. Halliburton: Fifth Circuit Invokes Common Sense To Defend Defense Base Act

On May 19, 2009, the Federal Circuit in Secretary of the Army v. Tecom upheld the contracting officer’s disallowance of a contractor’s legal costs and settlement expenses in a sexual harassment and retaliation action brought under Title VII. The opinion is sweeping, and appears to extend the holding in Boeing North American, Inc. v. Roche, 298 F.3d 1272 (Fed. Cir. 2002) to almost every instance in which the contractor elects to settle in lieu of litigating cases to a conclusion.
 


Continue Reading Federal Circuit Casts Cloud on Future Recovery of Settlement Costs in Non-Fraud-Related Cases

In United States v. Hoffman, 556 F.3d 871 (2009), the appellate court upheld a gratuities conviction based on an indictment alleging that the defendant had given a Government employee a set of golf clubs for or because of that Government employee’s role in rating the contractor’s performance under a contract with the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The court’s opinion illustrates a number of key points regarding the gratuities statute and the types of conduct that create the risk of a gratuities violation.
 


Continue Reading When “Generosity” Becomes a Vice: Eighth Circuit Affirms Gratuities Conviction Based on Email Correspondence Between Contractor and Government Employee