Can Florida Contractors Appeal a Default Termination by the Government?
There are many different, unusual laws and regulations that apply when Florida construction contractors do business with the federal, state, or local governments. The rules on terminations for default are certainly among the most complex. Federal regulations on government acquisitions allow the contracting officer from the relevant agency to terminate when a contractor has failed to make delivery of materials or perform services by the designated deadline. There are certain procedures the contracting officer must complete before a default termination, some of which give the contractor an opportunity to correct problems.
When the government still terminates the contract after going through these steps, a Florida contractor does have the option to appeal. The basic premise is that you seek another review of the situation, much like appealing a judge’s decision in a lawsuit. However, there are some facts you need to know before pursuing an appeal. A Florida default terminations lawyer can explain more about the following points.
Reviewing Notices from the Contracting Officer: The government cannot terminate for just any reason, and it must document its decisions related to the contractor relationship. Therefore, you will receive a cure notice, in which the contracting officer outlines the deficiencies in performance of services or delivery of materials. The documentation needs to be specific enough that you have guidance on how to correct errors.
Factors to Support Default Termination: When the contracting officer determines that there are still deficiencies, the contractor who is allegedly in default will receive a notice of termination. Before the government can cancel, however, federal rules require:
- A full, detailed explanation of the contractor’s default;
- A report on the availability of other construction services and materials;
- An assessment of how the termination will affect other contracts; and,
- Several other factors.
Deadlines for Appeals: There are two time periods to pay close attention to with default terminations. You must appeal the decision:
- By filing with the relevant contracting officer and agency within 90 days after receiving the termination notice; OR,
- By filing a case in the US Court of Claims within 12 months after receiving the notice.
The Government’s Burden: When appealing a termination for default, it is the government that has the burden to prove its position. The standard is a preponderance of the evidence, which means that it is more than 50 percent likely that the default termination was proper.
Possible Outcomes When Appealing Default Termination: If the government fails in its burden, the result of an appeal may be converting the matter to a convenience termination. The parties essentially walk away from the project, minimizing losses to the contractor.
Discuss Appeals with a Florida Default Terminations Attorney
These are some important facts to consider before appealing the government’s termination for default, and an experienced construction law attorney can provide additional details. Our team at Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. handles appeals in public construction projects, so please contact us to learn more. Our office serves clients throughout Palm Beach County, and you can call 561-626-8880 or visit our website to schedule a consultation.