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Government Contracts Litigation

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For more than 30 years, Quinn Emanuel has led one of the most successful government contract practices in the country.  Dispute resolution of these controversies is subject to specialized forums and a particularized body of law; yet success depends on litigation strategies used in commercial litigation.  In other words, success in this arena requires an experienced blend of knowledge and general litigation expertise.  Our firm is an expert at both. 

Our representations of government contractors have involved virtually all the substantive issues arising out of doing business with governments.  Such issues come into play both in lawsuits involving government agencies directly and in disputes between commercial parties, such as subcontractors and prime contractors, in which the relationship derives from a government contract and its use of “flow-down” provisions.  We have substantial expertise in government accounting, cost allowability, defective pricing, claims identification and analysis, intellectual property protection, bid protests, debarment and suspension, contract terminations, and contract changes.  Our experience also covers all key industry sectors – aerospace and defense, electronics, IT, communications, technical services, financial, construction, transportation, and health care and the life sciences fields.  Through the course of these representations, we have tried cases in all major government contract forums.

We represent a wide array of clients in this area from industry leaders to small and emerging companies and organizations.  A significant portion of our work relates to matters alleging criminal or civil fraud, which typically involve complex accounting issues springing from the regulatory overlay peculiar to government contracting.  Many of our partners who are former assistant U.S. attorneys bring to bear their extensive experience in trying criminal and civil False Claims Act cases to this practice area.  In addition, our practice also includes  significant involvement in international procurement disputes, appearing before the International Chamber of Commerce, the London Court of International Arbitration and, in one long trial, the Federal Court of Australia.

No matter what the client’s needs were in each of these representations – from equitable adjustment claims to defense of civil or criminal fraud allegations – Quinn Emanuel has offered the litigation experience and expertise necessary to achieve successful outcomes.


Recent Representations

  • We are conducting an internal investigation for a medical device manufacturing company that was subpoenaed by the Department of Justice. In addition to making medical devices, the company submits claims to Medicare and Medicaid for services it performs as a government-regulated Independent Diagnostic Testing Facility (“IDTF”).  Our internal investigation is targeting toward preventing a potential future Department of Justice-led case under the False Claims Act relating to those reimbursements.
  • We represent a medical provider in connection with responding to a civil investigative demand inquiring into the provider’s practice and relationship with other providers.
  • We were engaged by a Gulf state entity responsible for the development a new metro system to advise and represent it in significant disputes with a number of international contractors engaged on the project. The total value of the disputes to date exceed US$ 2 billion.
  • We advised the state oil company of a former CIS state in relation to the design and construction of an oil refinery in southeastern Europe and potential claims against the contractor group responsible for the design and construction of the facility for delays and failure to meet performance specifications, as well as potential counterclaims from the contractor group for delay and disruption and changes to specifications.
  • We successfully settled criminal and civil litigation venued in the Northern District of Georgia for client, Agility, a Kuwaiti multi-billion dollar logistics company. The litigation arose from allegations that Agility defrauded the federal government in the performance of Prime Vendor Contracts to supply food to United States troops during the Iraq war from 2003-2010.  Despite Agility’s near perfect performance of the mission to feed the U.S. troops, the government alleged that Agility engaged in a $10 billion fraud on the government.  In 2017, Agility announced a global settlement.  The criminal fraud action, involving an alleged $10 billion fraud was resolved with a single count misdemeanor plea in connection with a single invoice valued at $551. The misdemeanor, unrelated to any of the original criminal charges, required Agility to pay a maximum of $551 in restitution, but no criminal fine.  As part of the global settlement, Agility and its subsidiaries around the world were removed from the list of entities suspended from contracting with the U.S. government.  
  • We represented South African mining company AngloGold Ashanti in an arbitration proceeding before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (“ICSID”) against the Republic of Ghana over the withdrawal of military protection for the Obuasi gold mine in the Ashanti region of southern Ghana.  Our client filed its ICSID claim in 2016 after operations at the mine stalled when thousands of illegal miners raided the site, taking tens of millions of dollars-worth of gold and causing substantial damages to the mine infrastructure and many accidental deaths. We were able to secure a highly favorable settlement whereby the Ghanaian parliament agreed to invest US$ 880 million to redevelop the gold mine and make it more mechanized, while also ratifying a number of regulatory and fiscal agreements that support that goal—including a tax concession agreement worth US$ 259 million to our client. 
  • We also represented AngloGold Ashanti Limited and its subsidiaries in a London-seated, UNCITRAL arbitration against the United Republic of Tanzania.  The claims arose out of legislation passed by the Republic of Tanzania, purporting to force mining companies to list their shares and subjecting their agreements to review and renegotiation by the Government, in breach of stabilisation and other provisions contained in our clients’ development agreement with the Government, which was governed by Tanzanian law.
  • We represented DP World in an international arbitration before the London Court of Arbitration concerning allegations by the Republic of Djibouti that DP World had paid bribes to obtain a suite of contracts under which DP World designed, built, and was operating a state-of-the art container terminal in Djibouti in exchange for 33% ownership of the terminal and a management fee.  Djibouti initiated the arbitration in an effort to rescind or terminate the contracts and either take full ownership of the terminal or receive hundreds of millions in damages.  The Tribunal completely exonerated DP World, rejected all of Djibouti’s claims, and ordered Djibouti to pay DP World’s legal and other costs on an indemnity basis.
  • We advised Acacia Mining in relation to international arbitration proceedings under certain Mining Development Agreements, and a bilateral investment treaty dispute against the Republic of Tanzania following the Government of Tanzania’s decision to ban certain mineral exports as well as to require mining companies to mandatorily offer certain percentage of their shares to the public. Our London tax team also succeeded in eleven applications for extension of time filed at the Tax Revenue Appeals Board, Tanzania. These applications were filed on behalf of Bulyanhulu Gold Mine Limited and North Mara Gold Mine Limited, subsidiaries of our client Acacia Mining.  The tax at stake in these cases was in excess of USD$ 86 million.  A loss would have resulted in our client facing enforcement measures by the tax authority.
  • We represent Janus Global Operations in a complaint alleging breach of contract, trade secrets, and conspiracy claims related to a prime-subcontractor dispute where Janus is accused of trying to sabotage the prime contractor’s relationship with the government client. We prevailed – with all counts and all claims for relief denied -  in initially defending against a motion for TRO/preliminary injunction.  We then obtained a dismissal from federal district court; the matter is now pending in arbitration. 
  • The firm obtained a terrific settlement on behalf of its client, ACADEMI Training Center, LLC (f/k/a/ Blackwater USA), resolving a False Claims Act case that had been ongoing for seven years.  The case, originally filed in 2011, arose out of allegations that ACADEMI submitted invoices to the State Department for payment that contained false and misleading statements about the services that the company provided pursuant to a defense contract it had with the State Department. 
  • We advised DP World ("DPW") in negotiating an optimal settlement with the Republic of Yemen and its state-owned company the Yemen Gulf of Aden Ports Corporation ("YGAPC"), whereby the U.A.E.-based port operator recovered 80% of the value of its claims and divested its entire interests in the troubled joint venture company established with Yemen and YGAPC to develop, operate and manage two container terminals in Aden, Yemen.
  • We achieved the complete abandonment of an investigation by the Department of Justice into claims potentially valued at more than half a billion dollars against a major U.S. aerospace and defense contractor.  We were engaged midway through a seven year investigation after the U.S. government contended that the contractor was negligent and had committed violations of the False Claims Act amounting to potentially more than $600 million in damages.  After multiple presentations by our attorneys arguing that the government’s case was not supportable under the False Claims Act, government contract regulations or negligence law, the government decided to drop the investigation without taking any action.
  • We obtained complete dismissal of all claims in a qui tam/False Claims Act case on behalf of Northrop Grumman. Relator sought over $1 billion arising out of alleged wrongful billings in connection with $4.5 billion satellite project for the U.S. government.  After a complete internal investigation and subsequent presentation to the government, we secured a total victory by persuading the Department of Justice to decline to intervene and the relator to voluntarily dismiss.
  • We successfully defended Roche Molecular Systems against claims of infringement of Stanford HIV patents related to viral load and therapy decisions. Stanford challenged Roche patent rights, asserting that Stanford, rather than one of its researchers, owned patent rights resulting from government-funded research.  At the trial court, we obtained summary judgment of invalidity due to obviousness, and a favorable ruling on appeal to the Federal Circuit regarding standing to enforce the patents-in-suit.  The United States Supreme Court affirmed the Federal Circuit in a 7-2 decision, confirming a complete victory for the firm’s clients.  Quinn Emanuel’s client, Roche, now owns a portion of the patent rights asserted against it by Stanford, allowing Roche to continue to make and sell its life-saving HIV kits free from Stanford’s claims. 
  • We represented Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition, LLC in a two-week jury trial resulting in a verdict finding breach of contract against the Town of Mammoth Lakes. We obtained a judgment of $30 million for our client—the largest jury verdict in the history of Mono County, California and the 67t h largest verdict in the nation at that time.  In addition to a judgment for the client, we also secured an award of attorneys’ fees.  On appeal, our appellate attorneys successfully persuaded the California Court of Appeal to affirm the judgment in full.
  • We represented Hughes Aircraft in a breach of contract and tortious interference action against GEC, one of the largest industrial concerns in England. We tried the case before the London Court of International Arbitration which awarded our client $23 million in damages.  The award was based on the tribunal’s evaluation of the business opportunity Hughes lost when GEC cut Hughes out of a joint venture for proposing a radar system for the European Fighter Aircraft program.
  • We represented The Parsons Corporation in a “whistle-blower” qui tam lawsuit—in which the federal government did not intervene—where issues of proper accounting under Cost Accounting Standards 410 and 418 were in play. We resolved this litigation by obtaining a favorable settlement on behalf of the firm’s client.
  • We represented a major aerospace company in a federal lawsuit brought by a large European aerospace conglomerate involving a dispute over solar arrays used in satellites. We obtained summary judgment and a complete dismissal of the $133-million negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and fraud claims.
  • We represented Dayton T. Brown in two separate protests, one at the Government Accountability Office and the other at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, successfully defending bid protests against award of testing facilities contracts to the company.
  • We represented The Parsons Corporation in a cost allowability dispute before the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, which was successfully resolved upon undertaking extensive depositions of the government’s contracting officials.
  • We represented Hughes Aircraft in federal litigation in Australia, leading to a $25 million settlement upon a published opinion by the Federal Court that Australia had breached its contract with the U.S. company and committed fraud. The court, for the first time in Australia, found that the contract included an implied obligation of good faith and fair dealing.
  • We have represented a number of major government contractors in evaluating instances of alleged mischarging and reporting findings to the federal government, with resulting administrative resolution of the issues.
  • We represented Raytheon in a case brought against it by an individual who claimed that he was entitled to millions of dollars in commissions on the sale of the Patriot missile system to Saudi Arabia. As a result of our extensive negotiations with the Saudi government, a Saudi minister submitted an answer to a written interrogatory disavowing plaintiff’s right to any recovery.  We subsequently obtained a voluntary dismissal during trial.
  • We represented a major government contractor with respect to alleged mischarging issues that were the subject of a grand jury investigation and resolved the matter administratively through contract modification.
  • We have counseled the California Institute of Technology over time concerning its contract with NASA for operation of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
  • We represented Hughes Aircraft in obtaining a dismissal against both the United States government and the relator in a qui tam False Claims Act case alleging mischarging under government contracts.
  • We represented an international engineering firm against allegations that it violated the False Claims Act and over-billed the federal government by allegedly engaging in improper intercompany cost transfers. On the eve of trial, the case was settled for little more than nuisance value.
  • We represented an international engineering firm and its joint venture partners against allegations of accounting fraud and over billing by the government in connection with a long-term infrastructure construction project. We obtained dismissal of the fraud claim and are awaiting the result of a six-month bench trial.
  • We represented an international engineering firm in a dispute with the federal government over the manner in which environmental clean-up services were accounted for and charged. The engineering firm was accused of overbilling millions of dollars.  The government agreed to settle the dispute without the engineering firm having to pay any allegedly over billed amount to the government.
  • We represented an international construction and engineering firm against federal qui tam action brought by former employee alleging various over billing and improper billing on government projects and secured a complete victory on our motion to dismiss. 
  • We represented Litton Systems in a qui tam case, joined by the government, alleging misallocation of overhead costs for data processing services. We resolved this case by securing a favorable settlement for Litton Systems.
  • We represented Fluor Daniel Corp. in a qui tam claim by former employee overseeing cleanup of former Department of Energy nuclear fuel processing facility north of Cincinnati, challenging cost and schedule estimates for project and resolved the qui tam claim by obtaining a favorable settlement.
  • We represented Jacobs Engineering Group in a qui tam action, joined by the government, alleging improper charging of rental costs after sale and leaseback of headquarters building. The case resulted in a favorable settlement.
  • We represented Shell Oil Company in state and federal actions alleging underpayment of royalties on government oil leases; the matters ultimately settled.
  • We represented Loral in its defense of a derivative lawsuit related to one of the first direct broadcast satellite permits.
  • We represented a number of satellite manufacturers in disputes with the federal government relating to acquisition and performance disputes, including prosecuting and defending disputes before the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals and the U.S. Claims Court, and obtained favorable outcomes.
  • We represented Northrop Grumman against multiple employment and qui tam suits brought by former employee in a qui tam matter alleging flaws in circuitry for guidance system for MX Missile.  The representation included a jury trial and appellate proceedings in the Ninth Circuit and the Supreme Court.  All qui tam claims were dismissed and plaintiff received no monetary recovery after payment of sanctions award and attorneys’ fees.
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