Justia Massachusetts Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Government Contracts

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The Department of Mental Health (DMH) submitted a proposal to the Auditor of the Commonwealth that would privatize certain of its state-run mental health services. The Auditor issued a written decision approving the proposed privatization contract, concluding that the privatization proposal met the requirements of the Pacheco Law. The Pacheco Law establishes procedures that agencies must follow when beginning the bidding process for an entering into a privatization contract. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the Auditor’s decision, holding that the Auditor did not abuse her discretion in determining that DMH’s privatization proposal met the requirements of the Pacheco Law. View "Service Employees International Union, Local 509 v. Auditor of the Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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Service Employees International Union, Local 509 (Union) brought a declaratory judgment action against the Department of Mental Health (DMH) maintaining that certain contracts DMH made with private vendors were “privatization contracts” subject to the requirements of the Pacheco Law. The Union sought a declaration invalidating the contracts because DMH did not comply with the statutory prerequisites of the Pacheco Law. The case was dismissed. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded the case. On remand, DMH again successfully moved to dismiss the Union’s declaratory judgment action on the basis that it was moot because the initial contracts had expired and the remaining extant renewal contracts were immune from challenge by virtue of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 7, 53. The Union appealed, asserting that because the non-compliant initial contracts were invalid under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 7, 54, so too were any renewal contracts made pursuant to them. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of dismissal, holding that the protection afforded renewal contracts by section 53 is not extended to those renewal contracts made pursuant to timely challenged and subsequently invalidated privatization contracts under section 54. View "Service Employees International Union, Local 509 v. Department of Mental Health" on Justia Law

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In 2004-2005, Costa & Son Construction performed site work for the general contractor (Braitt) on such a project in Bridgewater. After Braitt terminated the relationship Costa sued, alleging breach of contract and violations of G.L. c. 93A. Costa sought to recover damages under a payment bond obtained by Brait from Arch Insurance, G.L. c. 149, 29. Brait asserted similar counterclaims against Costa. Arch argued that Costa had relinquished any right to claim against the bond pursuant to a provision of his subcontract with Brait. The trial court granted Brait and Arch directed verdict with respect to claims under the bond. A jury returned a verdict for Costa, against Brait. The Massachusetts Supreme Court vacated the directed verdict. A subcontractor on a public construction project for which a payment bond has been obtained by the general contractor pursuant to G.L. c. 149, 29, may not by private agreement forgo its right to pursue payment under the bond. The court also vacated the portion of the amended judgment granting consequential damages to Costa; consequential damages were precluded by the contract. View "Costa v. Brait Builders Corp." on Justia Law

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The Regional School District (Mahar), entered into a price watch agreement with Northeast Energy Partners, a licensed broker of energy services based in Connecticut, pursuant to which Northeast would negotiate and secure contracts for the provision of Mahar's electricity from energy suppliers. Mahar did not enter into the agreement to obtain Northeast's services pursuant to the competitive bidding procedures contained in G.L. c. 30B. When Mahar questioned the validity of the agreement, Northeast sought a declaratory judgment that the agreement is valid and enforceable because, under G.L. c. 30B, 1 (b ) (33), the agreement is exempt from the competitive solicitation and bidding procedures set forth in G.L. c. 30B. The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in favor of Northeast, holding that a contract between a school district and an energy broker for procurement of contracts for electricity is exempt from the requirements of G.L. [c.] 30B as a contract for 'energy or energy related services' pursuant to G.L. c. 30B, 1 (b ) (33). View "NE Energy Partners, LLC v. Mahar Reg'l Sch. Dist." on Justia Law

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In this consolidated appeal, the court construed the payment obligations of municipalities participating in G.L.c. 41, section 108L, (Quinn Bill), a local statute establishing a career incentive pay program for police officers. The underlying case arose when the Commonwealth, facing budgetary constraints, substantially cut reimbursements. Plaintiffs subsequently contended that clauses in the collective bargaining agreements (CBA) impermissibly conflict with the statute, which they viewed as requiring the city to pay 100% of benefits irrespective of reimbursement. The court held that the CBAs did not conflict with the statute and were valid. Section 108L required only that municipalities pay one-half the amounts specified in the payment provision, plus any amount actually received from the Commonwealth. Municipalities could agree to pay more, but the statute did not require it. Therefore, the cases were remanded to the county court, where the single justice was directed to issue a declaration stating that, with respect to section 108L, the CBAs between the city and the various police unions were valid and enforceable. View "Adams v. City of Boston" on Justia Law