Diversified Maintenance Systems, Inc. (“DMS”) filed a complaint in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (“COFC”), alleging that it had submitted to the Army a certified claim seeking cost and time increases on its Army contract. DMS stated in the complaint that it had never received a final decision from the contracting officer on its claim. In response, the Government argued that the claim had never been submitted to the contracting officer, and thus that the COFC lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal.
DMS contended that any allegation in the complaint, including its assertion that the COFC had jurisdiction, should be presumed to be true. Therefore, DMS argued, its assertion that it submitted a claim to the contracting officer before appealing to the COFC must be presumed to be accurate and would therefore be sufficient to satisfy the COFC’s jurisdictional requirement.
The COFC has jurisdiction over a timely appeal of a contracting officer’s final decision in response to a claim. Although courts generally accept the factual allegations in a complaint as true, “this is not the case with respect to jurisdictional allegations”. When there is a motion to challenge a plaintiff’s allegations of jurisdiction, the court can consider evidence outside the pleadings to resolve the issue. Therefore, the COFC rejected DMS’s argument that the COFC had to accept the factual allegations of jurisdiction in the complaint as true.
DMS, and not the Government, bore the responsibility for lost or delayed claims submitted to the contracting officer. DMS, however, submitted no evidence that the claim was submitted to or received by the contracting officer. Therefore, the COFC held that DMS failed to establish, by a preponderance of the evidence, that a claim was submitted to the contracting officer prior to filing a complaint. Diversified Maintenance Systems, Inc. v. The United States, No. 12-539 C (Fed. Cl., Apr. 26, 2013).
Practice Tip: Keep a delivery receipt for all claims submitted to the contracting officer, in the event the Government denies receipt.