ASBCA Not a Fan of Government’s Boilerplate Discovery Objections; Appeal of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, ASBCA No. 62209

46
Paul Vasarhelyi | Shutterstock

Contractor’s motion to compel responses to discovery requests is granted. The government objected to many of the contractor’s interrogatories alleging they were burdensome and unlikely to lead to relevant evidence. The board rejected the government’s objections, reasoning that the government was essentially arguing the contractor would not be able to prove its claims. The government, however, does not get to decide at the discovery stage whether the contractor will be successful at its method of proof.

Background

Lockheed Martin submitted claims to the Air Force for costs incurred due to excessive work on a contract. The Air Force denied the claims. Lockheed appealed to the ASBCA and served interrogatories on the government. The government objected to most of the intettoragoraties on the grounds that they were unduly burdensome and not likely to lead to the discovery or relevant evidence. Lockheed moved to compel seeking better responses.

Legal Analysis

  • Government Doesn’t Get to Decide Whether Contractor Can Prove Its Case — The government objected to the motion to compel on the grounds that there were insufficient facts for Lockheed to prove its case. That is not the standard for determining relevance in discovery. The government does not get to decide at the discovery stage if the contractor’s method of proof will be successful. A contractor is free to pursue its theory of the case and propound discovery to support it theory. 
  • The Interrogatories Were Not Burdensome — The government claimed it was unduly burdensome to attempt to locate anyone who might be able to remember information relevant to Lockheed’s interrogatories. The fact that the even attempting to locate someone was unduly burdensome indicated to the board that the government had not made a good faith effort to respond to the interrogatories.

Lockheed is represented by Stephen J. McBrady, J. Chris Haile, Skye Mathieson, John Nakoneczny, and Michelle D. Coleman of Crowell & Moring LLP. The government is represented by Jeffrey P. Hildebrant, Caryl A. Potter, III, Lawrence M. Anderson, and Danielle A. Runyan of the Air Force.

ASBCA - Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company