Articles Posted in Government Contracts

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The Vermont Spay/Neuter Incentive Program (VSNIP) was created in 2006 to subsidize dog, cat, and wolf-hybrid sterilization procedures for low-income Vermonters. Sue Skaskiw and the organization she directed, Vermont Volunteer Services for Animals Humane Society (VVSA), administered the VSNIP program from its inception in 2006 until the expiration of Skaskiw's contract in October 2012. Defendant Vermont Agency of Agriculture initially managed the program but responsibility was transferred to defendant Department for Children and Families (DCF), a department within the Agency of Human Services, in 2011. Defendant Kristin Haas was an employee of the Agency of Agriculture; defendants Kathleen Smith and Carol Maloney were employees of DCF. Sometime after the program's inception, the Agency of Agriculture contracted with Skaskiw to run VSNIP. She still held the contract when responsibility shifted to DCF in 2011, but at that time DCF put the contract out for a competitive bid. Two bidders, Skaskiw and VT-CAN!, submitted proposals, and VT-CAN! won the contract. Skaskiw subsequently filed this lawsuit. Skaskiw appealed the trial court's decision to grant the motion to dismiss of defendants Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Department for Children and Families, Haas, Smith, and Maloney on Skaskiw's claims of defamation, violation of due process, economic interference, and failure to discharge a mandatory duty. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Skaskiw v. Vermont Agency of Agriculture" on Justia Law

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In 1997, the Village of Derby Center and the City of Newport entered into a contract whereby the Village would supply 10,000 gallons of water per day to the City. The City claimed that the contract did not authorize the Village to adopt a new rate schedule in 2006 that included a ready-to-serve fee on top of actual water usage charges. The Village counterclaimed, alleging that the City connected customers who were not authorized under the contract, and that the City’s water use was chronically underreported due to equipment malfunction. After a trial, the superior court ruled for the City on its contract claim, holding that the ready-to-serve fee was not authorized by either contract or statute. As to the Village’s counterclaims, the court found that there was insufficient evidence to support the unauthorized-connection claim, and referred the water-usage-reconstruction claim to mediation. The Village appealed on all counts. The Supreme Court found: the plain language of the agreement authorized the use of a ready-to-serve fee to support the Village’s maintenance of its facilities. "The court erred in concluding otherwise." With respect to the Village's counterclaims, the Supreme Court found that the trial court indicated that it was clear, based on the billing periods showing a reading of zero usage by the City, that there were some erroneous readings, but it referred the Village’s claims to mediation without further resolution. After the City brought suit, the Village filed a motion to allow its counterclaim as to the underreported usage, which the trial court granted. The trial court’s decision to refer the Village’s counterclaim to mediation in its order, after it had already granted the Village’s motion to allow the counterclaim at trial, served only to create greater delay and expense to the parties, thus undermining the purpose of the alternative dispute resolution clause. "Even if the trial court would ordinarily have discretion over whether to send a counterclaim to mediation, under these circumstances the trial court could not properly rescind its decision, relied on by the parties, to allow the counterclaim after the trial had already taken place. Therefore, we remand the Village’s counterclaim for resolution by the trial court." View "City of Newport v. Village of Derby Center" on Justia Law

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The issue before the Supreme Court in this case centered on a contract dispute between the State of Vermont and Corizon Health, Inc., formerly known as Prison Health Services, Inc. (PHS). The State appealed a declaratory judgment ruling that PHS was not contractually obligated to defend the State and its employees against certain claims brought by the estate of an inmate who died while in the custody of the Department of Corrections.  Upon review of the contract in question, the Supreme Court reversed, concluding that PHS had a duty to defend.View "Vermont v. Prison Health Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2011, the Agency of Transportation advertised for bids to reconstruct a half-mile section of North Main Street in downtown Barre. Luck Brothers submitted the low bid and was awarded the contract for the project, which it started in the summer of 2011. In June 2012, Luck Brothers submitted a claim to the Agency seeking approximately $855,000 in additional compensation beyond the bid amount based on alleged differing site conditions from those assumed in the contract. One year later, Luck Brothers submitted a supplemental claim, making the total claim approximately $1.1 million. Less than three months after submitting its $855,000 claim, Luck Brothers filed a complaint against the Agency in superior court seeking, among other things, declaratory relief and compensatory damages. Specifically, the complaint alleged breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of an implied warranty on the part of the Agency, and sought penalties under the Prompt Pay Act. Luck Brothers appealed the superior court’s decision to grant the Agency’s motion to dismiss Luck Brothers’ lawsuit on grounds that the company failed to exhaust its administrative remedies before pursuing a remedy in the superior court. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed the superior court’s decision, but clarified the standard of review in appeals to the Vermont Transportation Board from Agency determinations under the claims process for construction contracts. View "Luck Brothers v. Agency of Transportation" on Justia Law

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The Franklin County Sheriff's Office appealed the trial court's judgment in favor of the St. Albans City Police Department. The Sheriff's Office contended that the City Police Department engaged in an unfair method of competition with the intent to harm competition under the Vermont Consumer Fraud Act's (VCFA) predatory pricing provision. Specifically, the Sheriff's Office argued that the City Police Department submitted an "artificially low" bid in response to the Town of St. Albans's request for proposals for law enforcement services. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed. "Here, the 'competitors' are all statutorily created entities, meaning that one entity cannot lower its prices so as to put another out of business, nor can potential entrants be deterred from entering the 'market' because the statutory scheme allows no new entrants. Although there is competition within a limited sphere as between the statutorily empowered entities, there is no threat of monopolization by any one of them. Thus, the Sheriff's Office's injuries alleged in the complaint do not fall within the zone of interests to be protected by Vermont's predatory pricing statute. . . .the Sheriff's Office was not denied something in which it had a legally protected interest, nor is its claim within the zone of interests protected by the statute, and it therefore lack[ed] constitutional and prudential standing." View "Franklin County Sheriff's Office v. St. Albans City Police Department" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from a written agreement between the City of Rutland and the Vermont Swim Association (VSA) that granted VSA the right to host its annual swim meet at a facility in a city park. VSA appealed the trial court's award of attorney's fees to the City. Because the plain language of the parties' contract did not require VSA to pay attorney's fees incurred by the City in pursuing either indemnity from VSA or other third-party actions, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court's ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Southwick v. City of Rutland" on Justia Law