Justia U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Government Contracts
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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) Title III court allowing certain expenses incurred by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) under a contract entered into with LUMA Energy, LLC and LUMA Energy ServCo, LLC (collectively, LUMA) as entitled to administrative expense priority pursuant to section 503(b)(1)(A) of the Bankruptcy Code, holding that there was no error.In 2017, the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico (FOMB) filed for bankruptcy on behalf of PREPA. In 2020, PREPA entered into a contract with LUMA, a private consortium, to transfer the operations and management of PREPA to LUMA. At issue was whether the Title III court erred in allowing expenses incurred by PREPA under the contract as entitled to administrative expense priority. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) section 503(b)(1)(A) applies in Title III cases; (2) the Title III court did not abuse its discretion in applying the requirements of section 503(b)(1)(A); and (3) the Title III court correctly held that 48 U.S.C. 2126(e) prevents it from reviewing challenges to FOMB's certification decision. View "Union de Trabajadores de la Industria Eléctrica y Riego v. Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the PROMESA Title III court granting the motion of the Financial Oversight and Management Board to assume certain long-term power supply contracts on behalf of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) under 11 U.S.C. 365 and 48 U.S.C. 2161, holding that there was no clear error.On appeal, Appellants - PREPA's primary labor union, an energy company that had other contracts with PREPA, and multiple environmental groups - argued that the Board abused the assumption procedure set forth in section 365 to avoid the competitive bidding process ordinarily required for long-term power supply contracts under Commonwealth law. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the Board's motion to assume was ripe for resolution by the Title III court and remained so on appeal; and (2) the Title III court properly granted the Board's motion to assume the renegotiated contracts under the customary standards of section 365(a). View "Campamento Contra Las Cenizas v. Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority" on Justia Law

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In this appeal arising from the efforts of the Massachusetts Technology Park Corporation (MTC) to provide broadband network access in Massachusetts, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court as to all but one narrow issue.MTC entered into two contacts, one with Axia NGNetworks USA (name later changed to “KCST”), which agreed to operate the network, and the other with Axia NetMedia Corporation (“Axia”), which guaranteed KCST’s performance. Once the network was constructed and began operating, MTC and KCST and Axia filed claims against each other, and KCST filed for bankruptcy. The parties agreed that those claims would be resolved by arbitration. In the meantime, MTC obtained a preliminary injunction from the district court ordering Axia to perform various obligations of KCST while the parties’ substantive disputes remained unresolved. The First Circuit largely affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in finding that MTC will likely prevail on its claim that Axia was obligated to continue performing its obligations as guarantor until the parties’ underlying dispute was resolved; (2) the case must be remanded for the limited purpose of amending the order to make clear the Axia’s obligations terminate once Axia has properly expended $4 million in complying with the guaranty; and (3) the remaining allegations of error were without merit. View "Axia NetMedia Corp. v. Massachusetts Technology Park Corp." on Justia Law

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In 2009, Pfizer, settled claims that it had violated the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729, and entered into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Months later, Booker and Hebron, former Pfizer sales representatives, brought a qui tam action, allegedly on behalf of the United States and several states, asserting that Pfizer had continued to violate the FCA and state analogues. They alleged that Pfizer had continued to knowingly induce third parties to file false claims for payment for Pfizer drugs with government programs like Medicaid by marketing the drug Geodon for off-label uses, in violation of 21 U.S.C. 301, and paying doctors kickbacks for prescribing the drugs Geodon and Pristiq, in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute, 42 U.S.C. 1320a-7b(b), (g). They also alleged that Pfizer had violated the FCA "reverse false claims" provision, 31 U.S.C. 3729(a)(1)(G), by failing to pay the government money owed it under Pfizer's Agreement with HHS, and that Pfizer had violated the FCA's anti-retaliation provision, by terminating Booker's employment. All of these claims were resolved against relators, one on a motion to dismiss and the rest on summary judgment. None of the sovereigns intervened. The First Circuit affirmed the merits decisions and found no error in its management of discovery. The court found relators’ data “woefully inadequate to support their FCA claim.” View "Booker v. Pfizer, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), enacted in 2016 to address Puerto Rico’s financial crisis, provides for a temporary stay of debt-related litigation against the Puerto Rico government. The statute, however, allows creditors to move for relief from the stay and directs courts to grant such relief “after notice and a hearing…for cause shown.” Movant Peaje Investments LLC and various appellants in Altair Global Credit Opportunities Fund (A), LLC v. Garcia-Padilla (the Altair Movants) filed lift-stay motions. The First Circuit (1) affirmed the district court’s denial of the Peaje Movant’s motion, holding that Peaje failed to set forth a legally sufficient claim of “cause” to lift the PROMESA stay; and (2) the Altair Movants presented sufficient allegations to entitle them to a hearing. View "Peaje Investments LLC v. Garcia-Padilla" on Justia Law

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This case concerned a dispute relating to contracts for the construction of a municipal transportation terminal on land owned by a municipality (Municipality). Municipality awarded the construction project to OSSAM Construction Inc. (OSSAM). After disputes arose regarding payments for the work performed in connection with the construction contracts, Municipality notified OSSAM that the contract between the parties was being terminated. Municipality then took control of the construction site. OSSAM and related individuals (Plaintiffs) filed suit against Municipality and its officials, claiming, inter alia, that Defendants violated 42 U.S.C. 1983 when they acted under color of law to interfere with Plaintiffs' constitutional rights during the construction site takeover and that these actions consisted a breach of contract. The district court (1) dismissed Plaintiffs’ section 1983 claim, concluding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the parties had failed to comply with the mediation/arbitration clause in their contract; and (2) declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over related state law claims. The First Circuit affirmed, albeit on different grounds, holding (1) the section 1983 claim should be dismissed for failure to state a claim; and (2) accordingly, there is no supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims. View "Masso-Torrellas v. Municipality of Toa Alta" on Justia Law

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These interlocutory appeals were from a district court order that, inter alia, compelled a law firm (Mintz Levin) to produce documents relating to a fraud allegedly committed by David Gorski in his operation of Legion Construction, Inc. in order to qualify for and obtain government contracts. Gorski and Legion appealed the portion of the order that required attorney-client privileged documents connected with Mintz Levin’s representation of Legion to be produced under the crime-fraud exception. The government cross-appealed the portion of the district court decision to exclude communications between Gorski and his personal attorney from the production order. The First Circuit (1) dismissed Gorski’s appeal for want of appellate jurisdiction, holding that the Court did not have jurisdiction over Gorski’s appeal but did have jurisdiction over Legion’s appeal and the government’s cross-appeal; (2) affirmed the production order as to Mintz Levin, holding that a prima facie case for the crime-fraud exception had been made; and (3) vacated the district court’s decision to exclude Gorski’s communications with his personal attorney from the production order, holding that the district court employed incorrect legal reasoning with regard to these documents. View "United States v. Gorski" on Justia Law

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Rosaura Building Corp. (“Rosaura”) filed a lease contract petition form offering its building as property for Head Start classrooms. The Mayor of the Municipality of Mayguez rejected the contract. Rosaura brought a civil rights claim for equitable relief and damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the Mayor and the municipal government (collectively, “Defendants”), claiming that Defendants’ rejection of the contract was solely motivated by Rosaura’s political beliefs. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in granting the dismissal of the claims against the Municipality, as there was no practical effect in dismissing the claims against the municipal government where a mayor’s “employment decisions ipso facto” constitute the official policy of the municipality; and (2) did not err in dismissing the claims against the Mayor in his official capacity, as Rosaura failed to state a First Amendment retaliation cause of action and failed to state an equal protection claim by not alleging what protected activity it exercised and was a substantial motivating factor in bringing about the Mayor’s purported retaliation. View "Rosaura Building Corp. v. Municipality of Mayaguez" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging First and Fourteenth Amendment violations concerning the rescission of a bid award for a potential, but unexecuted, insurance brokerage contract with the Puerto Rico government. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment due process claim where he had no constitutionally protected property interest in the initial bid award; reversed the grant of summary judgment on plaintiff's First Amendment claim for political discrimination where there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether plaintiff's political affiliation was a substantial or motivating factor for the adverse action; and remanded for further proceedings.View "Garcia-Gonzalez v. Puig-Morales" on Justia Law

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The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles sought proposals from contractors to print and send registration renewal notices along with advertisements to raise revenue to defray costs. RMV would provide the contractor with information (name, address, date of birth, and license number) that was generally exempt from public disclosure under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. 2721-25, and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 4, sect. 7, cl. 26(n), that the contractor would need to safeguard from unlawful public disclosure. Defendant's winning bid indicated that it understood and accepted the terms. The contract specified that Massachusetts would continue to exercise ownership over all personal data, and that a violation of the DPPA or the Massachusetts privacy law would cause the contract to terminate. Plaintiff, who received a registration renewal notice that included advertisements, filed a putative class action on behalf of himself and other drivers who, without providing consent, had received advertisements from defendant. The district court granted defendant judgment on the pleadings based on failure to join the Commonwealth as an indispensable party. The First Circuit affirmed, finding no violation of the DPPA. Defendant does not disclose the information it legitimately receives, as the state's contractor, to others. View "Downing v. Globe Direct LLC" on Justia Law