Release of Claims Can’t Be Undone by Refusing Government Payment

I recall sitting in a mediation one day when the mediator, a judge, told me and my client that we all have lightning in our fingers. He went on to explain that this means, once you sign a contract, it’s like magic in the sense that you can’t get out of the contract and are bound by it, absent certain exceptional circumstances.

I was reminded of this concept while reading a recent opinion from the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals that dealt with the effect of a contractor signing a release with the government and then trying to back out of that release by refusing payment from the government.

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Postal Service Customer Files $50,000 PSBCA Appeal Over Lost Mail

A dissatisfied U.S. Postal Service customer filed an appeal with the Postal Service Board of Contract Appeals, seeking $50,000 in damages resulting from the Postal Service’s failure to deliver a Priority Mail package.

The appellant contended that it had a contract with the Postal Service, which was breached when the Postal Service failed to deliver the package.  But the appellant’s cleverness wasn’t enough to prevail: the Board held that it lacked jurisdiction over the appeal.

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Is A Lease A CDA “Contract?” Federal Circuit Says Yes

Although a lease may be a “contract” in common parlance, does a lease qualify as a contract under the Contract Disputes Act?

The answer is important, because the Contract Disputes Act provides jurisdiction for the Court of Federal Claims and Board of Contract Appeals to decide challenges to contracting officers’ final decisions.  If a lease isn’t a contract under the Contract Disputes Act, government lessors could be in a bind.

The United States Court of Federal Claims recently decided the issue–and came down on the side of lessors, at least under the facts at hand.

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Release of Claims: Contractor Signatory Must Have Authority

What goes around, comes around.

The government sometimes refuses to pay a contractor for a modification when the government official requesting the modification lacks appropriate authority.  But contractual authority isn’t a one-way street benefiting only the government.  A recent decision by the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals demonstrates that a contractor may not be bound by a final waiver and release of claims if the individual signing on the contractor’s behalf lacked authority.

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Termination For Default: The “No Reasonable Likelihood” Standard

Sometimes you may find yourself running late. It happens to the best of us for a multitude of reasons. But what happens to federal contractors when they are running late in performing under a contract and there is “no reasonable likelihood” of timely performance?

Unfortunately for contractors in this position, as illustrated by a recent Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (CBCA) decision, the result may be a default termination.

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Excusable Delay: Government’s Failure To Extend Was “Constructive Acceleration”

Federal contractors not so infrequently find themselves in a position where they are unable to complete performance of a contract by the agreed-upon deadline. So, what happens when the delay is neither party’s fault, but the government denies extension of the period of performance or provides inadequate extensions?

In IAP Worldwide Services, Inc. (ASBCA Nos. 59397, 59398, and 59399), the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals found under the legal theory of “constructive acceleration” that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was liable for extra costs incurred by IAP due to the Corps insistence of timely contract delivery despite excusable delays.

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Government Tenant Liable For Damaging Leased Space

A government agency was liable for damaging leased space, even though the lease didn’t contain an explicit clause requiring the government to repair the space.

In a recent decision, the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals held that the VA was required to compensate the landlord for damage to the space, because every lease–including those entered by government tenants–contains an implied provision requiring the tenant not to damage the leased space, except for ordinary wear and tear.

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