Ninth Circuit Finds Arbitration Award Is ‘Irrational’ Because It Disregards the Contract’s Plain Text Simply to Reach a Just Result

Aspic Eng’g & Constr. Co. v. ECC Centcom Constructors LLC, No. 17-16510, 2019 BL 26363 (9th Cir. Jan. 28, 2019)

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Ryan R. Deroo

Aspic Engineering and Construction Company (“Aspic”), a local Afghan subcontractor, entered into multiple subcontracts with ECC Centcom Constructors and ECC International (“ECC”), the prime contractor, to construct buildings and facilities in Afghanistan.  The subcontracts contained terms and conditions “applicable to all U.S. Government subcontracts,” and mandated that Aspic owed ECC the same obligations that ECC owed to the federal government.  The subcontracts also incorporated multiple Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) clauses, including FAR 49.2 through 49.6, which govern the recovery of expenses in the event a contractor is terminated for convenience, i.e. required documentation and procedures.

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Federal Court in Idaho Rules That a Government Contractor May Recover Consultant Fees, So Long as Those Fees Were Incurred in Contract Administration and Negotiation of an Equitable Adjustment But Denies Recovery Because the Consultant Failed to Maintain Proper Records

Tri-State Elec., Inc. ex rel. Apex Enters. v. Western Sur. Co., 1:14-CV-00245, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4974 (D. Idaho Jan. 11, 2017)

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (the “VA”) contracted with Sygnos, Inc. (“Sygnos”) for improvements to the electrical system at a VA hospital in Boise, Idaho. Sygnos subcontracted a portion of the work to Apex Enterprises, Inc. (“AEI”), who in turn subcontracted a portion of its work to Tri-State Electric, Inc. (“Tri-State”).  Delays plagued the project from the outset, and the work – originally scheduled for completion in 240 days – ultimately took more than 950 days to perform.  Disputes concerning responsibility for and the amount of delay damages ensued.

Sygnos submitted a request for equitable adjustment to the VA as a result of the delays. Receiving no timely response from the VA, Sygnos converted the request for equitable adjustment to a claim for delay damages under the Contract Disputes Act, which the VA and Sygnos settled for $645,000.  AEI and Tri-State subsequently sued Sygnos for delay damages they incurred on the project.  Sygnos did not dispute that AEI and Tri-State had suffered delays but it disputed some categories of damages claimed and cited the no-damage-for-delay clause in Tri-State’s contract as barring its claims. Continue reading “Federal Court in Idaho Rules That a Government Contractor May Recover Consultant Fees, So Long as Those Fees Were Incurred in Contract Administration and Negotiation of an Equitable Adjustment But Denies Recovery Because the Consultant Failed to Maintain Proper Records”