Articles Posted in Government Contracts

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AFSCME represents approximately 40,000 state employees working in executive agencies. In 2008, AFSCME and the state negotiated a collective bargaining agreement effective through June 2012, providing for a general wage increase on January 1, 2009, and thereafter on every July 1 and January 1. Individual increases varied, but totaled 15.25%. A 4% increase was scheduled for July 1, 2011. In 2010, facing declining state revenues and the potential layoff of 2,500 state employees, AFSCME and the state agreed to $300 million in cost savings, including deferring the July 2011 increase; a 2% increase would be implemented on July 1, 2011, with the remaining 2% to be implemented on February 1, 2012. After adoption of the fiscal 2012 budget, the Department of Central Management Services notified agencies and labor relations administrators that, due to insufficient appropriations, the wage increase could not be implemented in 14 agencies. In arbitration, the state argued that the Public Labor Relations Act mandates that executive branch expenditures under a CBA are contingent on corresponding appropriations by the General Assembly, that this provision restates the mandate of the Illinois Constitution appropriations clause, and that it was incorporated into the CBA by the statement that “the provisions of this contract cannot supersede law.” The arbitrator issued an award in favor of AFSCME. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed the lower courts and vacated the award, holding that the arbitration award violates Illinois public policy, as reflected in the appropriations clause and the Public Labor Relations Act. View "Illinois v. Am. Fed'n of State, County & Mun. Employees, Council 31" on Justia Law

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Pusateri, a former employee of Peoples Gas Light and Coke Company (PG) filed a complaint under the False Claims Act, 740 ILCS 175/1, alleging that PG used falsified gas leak response records to justify a fraudulently inflated natural gas rate before the Illinois Commerce Commission. As a customer, the State of Illinois would have paid such fraudulently inflated rates,. The Cook County circuit court dismissed with prejudice, finding that as a matter of law, there was no causal connection between the allegedly false reports and the Commission-approved rates. The appellate court reversed, construing the complaint’s allegations liberally to find PG could have submitted the safety reports in support of a request for a rate increase, despite not being required to do so under the Administrative Code. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the dismissal, reasoning that the court lacked jurisdiction to order relief. The legislature did not intend the False Claims Act to apply to a Commission-set rate. The Commission has the duty to ensure regulated utilities obey the Public Utilities Act and other statutes, except where enforcement duties are “specifically vested in some other officer or tribunal.” View "Pusateri v. Peoples Gas Light & Coke Co." on Justia Law

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The Village of Bement, Piatt County, has a five-year contract, under which E.R.H. Enterprises operates and maintains the Village’s potable water facility and parts of its water delivery infrastructure. The Department of Labor issued a subpoena to E.R.H.’s attorney seeing employment records as part of an investigation under the Prevailing Wage Act, 820 ILCS 130/0.01. E.R.H. asserted that it was exempt from the Act as a public utility. The trial court ruled in favor of the Department and ordered E.R.H. to provide the requested documents, noting that the company was not regulated by the Illinois Commerce Commission. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed the appellate court, finding that E.R.H. is simply an outside contractor. View "People v. IL Dep't of Labor" on Justia Law

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In 1998 Prazen retired as superintendent of the City of Peru electrical department. He had more than 27 years of service and purchased five years of age-enhancement credit. Prazen had an unincorporated electrical business, which was incorporated just before he retired. Before he retired, the City entered into an agreement with his corporation for operation of the City’s electrical department, including management and supervision. First year compensation under the contract was about $7,000 higher than Prazen’s prior annual salary. The relationship lasted until 2009, when the corporation was dissolved. In 2010, the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund notified Prazen that, after participating in the early retirement incentive plan, he had violated the statutory prohibitions (40 ILCS 5/7-141.1(g)) against returning to work. The Fund recalculated his years of service as 27 and claimed he should repay $307,100 as a statutory forfeiture. The circuit court agreed. The appellate court reversed and the Illinois Supreme Court agreed. The work done between 1999 and 2009 was done by a separate corporate entity and was not precluded by statute. If the legislature had wanted to specifically prohibit this, it could have said so. The statute does not show intent to prohibit outsourcing to a retired employee’s corporation and the legislature did not grant the Trustees of the Fund authority to find that a corporation was a “guise.” The court noted that, earlier in the period under consideration, the Board had expressed the view that what the arrangement was p View "Prazen v. Shoop" on Justia Law

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Patrick Engineering signed a 2007 contract with the City of Naperville for work on a stormwater management system. Some work was done and some payments were made, but the parties fell into a dispute over “additional services.” Patrick terminated the agreement and sued Naperville, seeking $436,392. The agreement provided that if Naperville made a verbal request for additional services, the engineers were required to confirm that request in writing and were not obligated to perform the changes until authorized in writing. This procedure was not followed; equitable estoppel became the crux of the case. The trial court dismissed. The appellate court reversed. The city did not appeal with respect to claims of quantum meruit and under the Illinois Local Government Prompt Payment Act, which remain pending in the trial court. The supreme court reversed with respect to other claims and reinstated the dismissals. While equitable estoppel may apply against municipalities in extraordinary and compelling circumstances, Illinois courts have never held that apparent authority may be applied against municipalities. To recover in equitable estoppel, plaintiff must allege specific facts showing that municipal officials possessed actual, rather than apparent, authority on which plaintiff reasonably relied. View "Patrick Eng'g v. City of Naperville" on Justia Law

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Defendant, a school district, leased portable classrooms from plaintiff under contracts including penalties for early cancellation or default. Under the Downstate School Finance Authority for Elementary Districts Law (105 ILCS 5/1F-1) the state later created the Authority to manage the District's finances. The Authority canceled the leases before expiration, but did not authorize payment of the cancellation fees. The trial court granted summary judgment, finding it was legally impossible for the District to pay the cancellation fees, but also finding that the Authority had to comply with the cancellation terms of the leasing contracts. The appellate court affirmed the judgment in favor of the District on the cancellation fees and vacated as moot the declaratory judgment in favor of plaintiff. The Illinois Supreme Court concluded that the legislature intended the Act to permit the Authority to cancel a school district's contract with a third party, but that cancellation must be consistent with the contractual terms agreed to by the school district and the third party. The Authority can cancel the leasing contracts, but must pay the contractual fees for early cancellation. View "Innovative Modular Solutions v. Hazel Crest Sch. Dist. 152.5" on Justia Law