Bell/Heery v. United States, No. 13-5002 (Fed. Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
In 2006, the Federal Bureau of Prisons issued a Request for Proposals for the “design-build” construction of a federal correctional institution. The project involved a “cut-to-fill” site, meaning that the ground had to be leveled by excavating materials from one area of the site and using those materials to fill lower areas. Based on information in the solicitation documents and prior experience, BH believed the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Sciences would approve a permit for a one-step-cut-to-fill construction plan and calculated its bid price, $238,175,000, accordingly. The contract provided liquidated damages of $8,000 for each day completion was overdue. The NHDES rejected the application. BH advised the government of the implications of NHDES restrictions, but did not refuse to proceed or request that the government intervene with the NHDES. According to BH, the restrictions were contrary to generally accepted industry practice. Upon completion of cut-to-fill operations, BH submitted a Request for Equitable Adjustment, seeking $7,724,885 for excess costs. The Contracting Officer and the Claims Court rejected the request, finding that the Permits and Responsibilities clause placed the burden of obtaining and complying with state and local permits on BH “without additional expense to the Government;” that BH had not alleged violation of the implied duty of good faith; and that, because the government did not control the NHDES, there was no basis for imposing liability for constructive change. The Federal Circuit affirmed.