In the opening scene of a recent decision issued by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, the court quotes from Othello:

Who steals my purse steals trash; ‘tis something, nothing;

‘Twas mine, ‘tis his, and has been slave to thousands;

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In Cherokee Nation Technologies, LLC v. United States, the Bureau of Indian Affairs awarded an information technology services contract to Cherokee Nation Technologies.  But the incumbent contractor, Chenega Federal Systems, LLC, filed a protest with the General Accounting Office, and the BIA ultimately responded by terminating the contract with Cherokee Nation and dismissing the bid protest.

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Section 1500 Reform Finds Support in the Senate

October 15, 2014

On July 31, 2014, Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), and co-sponsors, Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Jon Tester (D-MT), introduced a bipartisan bill “amending the prohibition on the exercise of jurisdiction by the United States Court of Federal Claims of certain claims pending in other courts.”  That prohibition, 28 U.S.C. § 1500, deprives the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (CFC) of jurisdiction over claims that, when filed, are based on the same operative facts as claims pending in a district court.  Both the American Bar Association and the Administrative Conference of the United States have recommended that Section 1500 be repealed.  At its February 2013 mid-year meeting, the ABA passed Resolution 300, stating that “the American Bar Association urges Congress to repeal 28 U.S.C. § 1500 and replace it with a presumptive stay as recommended by the Administrative Conference of the United States.”

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

October 14, 2014

In 1983, Theodore Simonson located 21, 40-acre placer mining claims in Kern County, California in accordance with the 1872 General Mining Law.  Drilling confirmed the presence of a pumicite deposit that was 14 feet thick in some locations, extending to 28 feet thick in others.  Later, an additional two mining claims were located. In 1987, Simonson and his partner, doing business as Reoforce, Inc., submitted a Plan of Operations to the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to mine approximately 100,000 tons of pumicite from the mines, which was later amended to increase mining activities. Despite these plans, the actual mining operations were slow to commence.

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When Court Says No, It Means No

October 2, 2014

Having prevailed in a post-award bid protest contesting a contract award by the United States Army to provide installation and infrastructure upgrades to fiber optic cable networks in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Hyperion, Inc. filed a petition for attorneys’ fees and costs under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA).  Hyperion argued that the Army’s decision to declare three other offers technically acceptable was prejudicial to Hyperion, and asked that the U.S. Court of Claims set aside the contract award made to Technical Communications Solutions Corporations.

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Silver Buckle Holds Fast

October 1, 2014

In 2001 an Idaho-based mining company—Silver Buckle Mines, Inc.—which holds seventy-two active mining claims—sued to recover fees it claims were illegally assessed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Before 2012, federal law required that holders of mining claims pay an annual maintenance fee on those claims. But in 2012, Congress briefly changed the law to require fees only on newer mining claims. (Congress changed the law back the year after). BLM collected fees from Silver Buckle even though Silver Buckle only owned older mining claims.
Silver Buckle sued, seeking a refund of those fees. The Government moved to dismiss, arguing that Congress’s withdrawal of the fee requirement in 2012 was simply “a scrivener’s error.” The Government also argued that Silver Buckle had voluntarily made the payments, and could not now seek reimbursement for what it had freely given to the Government.
The Court rejected both of the Government’s arguments. Although the Government was able to identify legislative history that allegedly supported the Government’s reading of the statute, this was not enough to justify rewriting the statute: “A federal court cannot reform the clear language of a statute based simply on its view of statutory history when there is no ambiguity to be found in the text.” The Court also rejected the Government’s defense that the payments were voluntary, holding that Silver Buckle’s complaint could not be read to support the Government’s argument:

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