Justia Massachusetts Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Government Contracts
Fairhaven Housing Authority v. Commonwealth
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the superior court judge dismissing the underlying declaratory judgment complaint in this declaratory judgment action regarding the scope of the Department of Housing and Community Development's (DHCD) authority under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 121B, 7A, holding that dismissal was warranted.Plaintiffs - location housing authorities (LHAs) of various cities and towns, current and former executive directors of LHAs and others - sought a judgment declaring that DHCD exceeded its authority under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 121B, 7A by promulgating guidelines that govern contracts between an LHA and its executive director and making compliance with the guidelines a requirement to obtain contractual approval from DHCD. A superior court judge allowed DHCD's motion to dismiss. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that LHAs have authority to hire executive directors and "determine their qualifications, duties, and compensation, under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 121B, 7. View "Fairhaven Housing Authority v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law
Metcalf v. BSC Group, Inc.
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court judge granting summary judgment in favor of BSC Companies, Inc., BSC Group, Inc., and the companies' president (collectively, BSC) in this action brought by BSC's former employees alleging claims under the Prevailing Wage Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, 26-27H, holding that the contracts at issue were not governed by the Act, and BSC was not required to pay its employees a prevailing wage pursuant to the contracts.At issue were two professional engineering services contracts awarded by the Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to BSC. The contracts were not competitively bid and were not awarded to the lowest bidder, unlike contracts for public works construction projects governed by the Act. Further, the contracts did not specify that BSC's employees would be paid at least a prevailing wage determined by the Department of Labor Standards. The superior court judge granted summary judgment to BSC. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs were not entitled to a prevailing wage for their work under the professional services contracts. View "Metcalf v. BSC Group, Inc." on Justia Law
Pearson v. Sheriff of Bristol County
The Supreme Judicial Court held that the Massachusetts Legislature, through the provisions of St. 2009, ch. 61, 12(a), 12(c), 15, or Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 127, 3, taken separately or together, authorize the Bristol County Sheriff's Office to raise revenues for the Office of the Sheriff through inmate calling service contracts.At issue was whether St. 2009 ch. 61 section 12(a), an act transferring county sheriffs to the Commonwealth, granted authority to the Bristol County Sheriff's Office to raise revenues for his office through an inmate calling service contract with a third-party vendor. The Supreme Judicial Court answered the certified question in the positive, holding that the act, independently and buttressed by sections 12(c) and 15, authorized the Bristol County sheriff's office to collect and retain revenue from inmate calling service contracts in the unmodified special act. View "Pearson v. Sheriff of Bristol County" on Justia Law
Posted in: Government Contracts
Mederi, Inc. v. Salem
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the superior court denying this action in the nature of mandamus as well as certiorari review of the decision of the city of Salem to reject Mederi, Inc.'s application to enter into a host community (HCA) agreement, holding that there was no error.When Mederi applied for an HCA with the city to open a retail marijuana establishment in Salem it was one of eight applications vying for four available spots. The city of Salem denied Merderi's application. Merderi then filed a complaint seeking relief in the nature of mandamus as well as certiorari review of the city's decision, claiming that by rejecting it as an HCA partner, the city effectively precluded Mederi from being considered for a license to sell marijuana. A superior court judge dismissed the mandamus claim and granted judgment on the pleadings on the remaining certiorari claim. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the city made a rational choice to reject Mederi's application in favor of other prospective retail marijuana establishments; and (2) the city's application process was not contrary to law. View "Mederi, Inc. v. Salem" on Justia Law
G4S Technology LLC v. Massachusetts Technology Park Corp.
In this appeal arising from a construction contract dispute, the Supreme Court held (1) complete and strict performance is required for all construction contract terms relating to the design and construction itself, but ordinary contract principles, including the traditional Massachusetts materiality rule, apply to breaches of other provisions, such as the one at issue in this case governing payment certifications; and (2) as recovery sought under a theory of quantum meruit, good faith applies to the contract as a whole, and the intentional commission of breaches of individual contract provisions must be considered in the overall context.A superior court judge in this case concluded that Plaintiff was barred from seeking recovery on the contract or under quantum meruit because it intentionally filed false certifications of timely payments to subcontractors. It also concluded that Defendant could not maintain a fraud action against Plaintiff, in which it sought damages in addition to a payment Defendant had already withheld, because any recovery would be duplicative. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) Plaintiff’s false certifications and intentional subcontractor payment delays constitute a material breach of the contract and precluded recovery for breach of contract; (2) disputed material facts precluded summary judgment on the quantum meruit claim; and (3) the dismissal of Defendant’s fraud claim against Plaintiff was error. View "G4S Technology LLC v. Massachusetts Technology Park Corp." on Justia Law
Service Employees International Union, Local 509 v. Auditor of the Commonwealth
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
Service Employees International Union, Local 509 v. Department of Mental Health
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
Costa v. Brait Builders Corp.
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
NE Energy Partners, LLC v. Mahar Reg’l Sch. Dist.
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
Adams v. City of Boston
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