COFC Can’t Grant a Preliminary Injunction in CDA Case Seeking Only Monetary Damages; Sergeant’s Mechanical Systems, Inc. d/b/a Sergent Construction v. United States, COFC No. 21-1685C

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Contractor’s request for preliminary injunction is denied. The contractor filed suit under the CDA challenging a termination for default. As part of the suit, the contractor also sought a preliminary injunction. The court found that it lacked jurisdiction to grant a preliminary injunction in a CDA claim. The COFC only has authority to injunctive relief under the Tucker Act in (1) a bid protest, (2) as an incident to judgment, (3) or in certain cases seeking of non-monetary relief. The case involved a claim under the CDA, not a protest. Also, no judgment had been entered, so the court could not order an injunction incidental to a judgment. Finally, the contractor had only sought monetary relief.

Background

The Department of Veterans Affairs terminated a contract it had with Sergent Construction for default. Sergent filed suit with the Court of Federal of Claims challenging the termination. In its complaint, Sergent cited the Tucker Act as modified by the Contract Disputes Act as the basis of the court’s jurisdiction.

In conjunction with its complaint, Segment moved for a preliminary injunction, asking the court to enjoin the VA from awarding a completion contract to another contractor and to not report the termination to other agencies.

Legal Analysis

  • COFC Has Limited Authority to Grant Injunctive Relief — The Tucker Act only permits the COFC to grant injunctive relief in three statutorily defined circumstances: (1) in a bid protest, (2) incident or collateral to a money judgment, or (3) for certain types of non-monetary relief.
  • Sergent Had Not Request Relief “Incident to a Money Judgment” — Section 1491(a)(2) permits the COFC to issue injunctive relief as an incident to a money judgment. This means the requested injunctive relief must be tied to a money judgment. Here, Sergeant had requested a preliminary injunction at the outset of the case. There was no judgment, at this stage of the case, to which the injunction was connected.
  • Sergent Didn’t Seek Non-Monetary Relief — Section 1491(a)(2) allows the COFC to grant injunctive relief for certain non monetary claims. But Sergent didn’t submit a non monetary claim. Sergeant challenged a termination for default. Its only remedy was conversion to termination for convenience and associated damages. Indeed, Sergeant had submitted a claim seeking a “sum certain,” indicating it was seeking monetary relief.
  • Sergeant’s Claim Was Not a Bid Protest — Sergent argued that its suit could be a bid protest because the VA had begun the process of finding another contractor to complete the project. But the court found Sergent unambiguously asserted a claim under the CDA, not a bid protest, The fact that the agency had discussions about a completion contractor did not metamorphose the case into a bid protest.

Sergent is represented by Joel L. Hammer and Jonathan Perrone of Whitcomb Selinsky, P.C. The government is represented by Michael D. Snyder, Brian M. Boynton, Martin F. Hockey, Jr., and Patricia M. McCarthy of the Department of Justice.

COFC - Sergent’s Mechanical Systems