In June 2012, the Government Printing Office issued an invitation for bids to print English and Spanish-language versions of a pamphlet called “Medicare and You,” commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services. Colonial Press International was one of nine companies that bid.  But although regulations normally require that the Government grant the contract to the lowest bidder—which was Colonial—here the Government granted the contract to another printing company, Fry Communications, citing concerns about Colonial’s reliability.

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A Trail Runs Through It

July 20, 2015

Between 1880 and 1882, the Indiana Southwestern Railway company acquired rights-of-way across privately owned land for use as railroad lines.  In 2010, the successor-in-interest railroad company decided that it no longer needed the railroad lines and submitted a notice of exemption to abandon the lines to the town of Poseyville, Indiana and on May 23, 2011, the Surface Transportation Board issued a Notice of Interim Trail Use or Abandonment to the railroad company. The Indiana Trails Funds, Inc. filed a request for interim use of the railroad lines as a recreational trail under the National Trails System Act.  However, the railway company and the recreational trails fund never finalized an agreement, and the Notice of Interim Trail Use expired on its own terms.

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Unintelligible, Bizarre, and Consequently Frivolous

July 17, 2015

Attorney, James Widtfeldt, was indefinitely suspended from the practice of law in Nebraska for “repeatedly fil[ing] irrelevant and abusive motions and pleadings.” Some of his filings involved a dispute over the federal gift and estate tax consequences of farmland rental units and other property his parents owned in Holt County, Nebraska, which ultimately brought him to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Before he arrived at the CFC, Widtfeldt first brought his claims in Tax Court. The Tax Court ruled against him, holding that Widtfeldt had failed to prove that the government’s determinations regarding his parents’ tax liability were incorrect. On appeal, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the Tax Court’s decision.

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A Rule Is a Rule

July 16, 2015

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims recently dismissed a former railroad worker’s appeal of the Merit Systems Protection Board’s determination of a monthly disability annuity in Roger Haynes, III v. United States.  Haynes had been a railroad worker for fifteen years until he became permanently disabled.  Since 1990, Haynes had received an annuity as calculated under the Railroad Retirement Act of 1974.  But in 2013, the Railroad Retirement Board changed the amount of Haynes’ annuity.  Haynes appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board, but his appeal was dismissed as untimely.

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The Sinking of FastShip

July 15, 2015

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims recently dismissed claims that the U.S. Navy had infringed plaintiff’s patent for a waterjet propulsion system when it ordered construction of the Freedom class of littoral combat ships. In FastShip LLC v. United States, FastShip had patented a design for a semi-planning monohull vessel with waterjet propulsion. The Government moved for partial summary judgment, arguing that the patent had expired by the time all but one ship had been built.

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Michael of 122 Days

July 10, 2015

On March 9, 2015, Michael S. Ross filed a complaint (pro se) in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (CFC). 122 days later, Ross was out of court. Ross’s complaint centered on his contention that the Social Security Administration (SSA) had improperly determined that he was overpaid benefits, and as relief he sought to recover $31,000 in benefits he claimed the SSA had wrongfully withheld from him. Ross also sought to recover punitive damages.

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