Partner David Ralston and Senior Counsel Frank Murray represented Foley client WHR Group last year in a successful bid protest before the US Court of Federal Claims against the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and then sought an award of attorneys’ fees and costs under the Equal Access to Justice Act. The Court of Federal Claims recently approved the EAJA request in full, entering judgment in WHR’s favor for more than $110,000 in fees WHR incurred in the protest.
In 2014, the FBI awarded WHR a multi-million dollar blanket purchase agreement to provide relocation services for FBI employees transferring from to a different duty location. The incumbent contractor, which had not obtained an award, protested at the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”), and the FBI tried to cancel the BPA award to WHR as part of the FBI’s settlement agreement with the incumbent to resolve the GAO protest. In turn, WHR, represented by Foley, promptly protested the FBI’s decision to the Court of Federal Claims, and obtained a temporary restraining order against the FBI, and later a permanent injunction directing the FBI to keep the BPA award to WHR in place. The FBI did not appeal, and WHR sought its fees and costs for the protest under the EAJA.
In response, the government asserted that its position in the protest had been substantially justified. Judge Wheeler, of the Court of Federal Claims, disagreed, stating that the Court “cannot see a rational reason for any of the FBI’s actions” that WHR challenged. The Court went so far as to state the FBI’s putative settlement agreement with the incumbent contractor was “sweetheart deal” that amounted to “impermissible favoritism.” As a result, the Court awarded WHR the maximum fees permitted under the EAJA inflation-adjusted cap.