Meridian Engineering Co. v. United States, No. 17-1584 (Fed. Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Meridian contracted to construct the Chula Vista Project flood control project, including construction of concrete channels, relocation of a sewer line, and dewatering and water diversion. After commencing work, Meridian encountered problems relating to “a layer of dripping saturated dark clay material under which a clean layer of sand is producing water” with “the potential for serious structural damage.” The government issued contract modifications, including an increase in funds for larger pipe, addition of a reinforced concrete access ramp, investigation of soil properties, remediation of saturated soils, and additional sheet piling. The government directed Meridian to suspend work following structural failures and terminated the project following a final inspection. Meridian sued for breach of contract, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, and violation of the Contract Disputes Act, 41 U.S.C. 601−613. The government conceded liability for certain costs relating to suspension of work, channel fill, and interim protection. With respect to other claims, the Federal Circuit affirmed in part. Meridian’s interpretation of the contract was not reasonable; the existence of subsurface saturated soil conditions was “reasonably foreseeable.” The Trade Court did not impose an improper requirement for investigation of site conditions beyond what a reasonable contractor would undertake. The court remanded for consideration of whether the parties reached a meeting of the minds on flood event claims and held that the Trade Court erred dismissing Meridian’s unpaid contract quantities claim, in light of conflicting information.