The following is how the U.S. Court of Federal Claims recently summarized a case that it threw out because, in part, it was brought too late:
“Plaintiff Eden Isle Marina, Inc. operates a commercial marina located on a lake owned by the United States Corps of Engineers (“Corps”). It contends that the Corps breached the commercial concession leases governing its operation of the marina by thwarting its repeated attempts to develop its leasehold as permitted by the express terms of the leases. It further contends that the Corps deprived it of its property without just compensation in violation of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. After hearing plaintiff’s case-in-chief at trial, it is crystal clear that the Corps–from its civilian leadership at headquarters through its personnel in the local office–breached its contracts and grievously wronged plaintiff. It is equally clear that one of plaintiff’s elected representatives actively worked against plaintiff to prevent it from developing its leasehold. Plaintiff stood no chance to enjoy the benefit of its contracts with the Corps in the face of the political forces aligned against it.” (Eden Isle Marina, Inc. v. United States, No. 07-127 C, October 29, 2013).
You read that right. The Court found in a 163-page decision that the leadership of a U.S. Government agency and a sitting member of Congress “grievously wronged” a contractor by actively working to prevent the contractor from exercising its contract rights. The Court found, for example, that “Nothing about the Corps’ processing of plaintiff’s August 12, 1998 request to add boat slips at Eden Isle Marina comported with the Corps’ typical practice.” Still, the Court concluded that it could do little as to what appeared to be meritorious claims because the contractor sat on its rights too long and missed the statute of limitations, i.e., the deadline established by law for filing suit.
So the contactor was right that it was wronged but it recovered nothing because it didn’t bring its claim in time, considering that the lease was terminated in 1999 and the Complaint wasn’t filed until 2007. Much of the 163-page opinion is devoted to the plaintiff’s timely claims under a second lease, claims which the Court found plaintiff had not proved. Still, one wonders why no one figured out the statute of limitations problem before engaging in six years of litigation and a 17-day trial.