News & Events

Article Quotes Aaron Silberman re 5th Circuit Decision re Federal False Claims Act Post-Escobar

RJO government contracts attorney Aaron Silberman was quoted in the Federal Contracts Report (FCR) for October 10, 2017, in an article titled “False Claims Act: $663M Reversal Has Silver Lining For Whistle-Blowers, Attorneys Say” (108 FCR, 10/10/17). The article reports on the decision of the Federal Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in U.S. ex rel. Harman v. Trinity Industries Inc., 5th Cir., No. 15-41172 (9/29/17). The court reversed a District Court’s denial of the defendants’ motion for judgment notwithstanding a $663 million verdict under the FCA for false representations about its guardrail product complying with federal safety regulations. “The result wasn't surprising given the Supreme Court’s decision in Universal Health Servs., Inc. v. United States ex rel. Escobar, which raised the bar a plaintiff must reach to prove the materiality element of a case, Aaron P. Silberman, a shareholder at Rogers Joseph O'Donnell in San Francisco, told Bloomberg BNA.” The article then quotes Mr. Silberman: ‘‘Where the government knows of the alleged falsity and continues to pay, it will be difficult for a plaintiff to prove materiality’’; and ‘‘Where the government’s knowledge is complete and reasoned, as it was here, proving materiality will be impossible." Article


RJO Welcomes Katherine M. Svinarich

Rogers Joseph O’Donnell is pleased to announce that Katherine M. Svinarich has joined the firm as an associate in our Labor & Employment Practice Group. Kate’s practice is primarily focused on representing employers and management in single plaintiff, multiple plaintiff, class action and other types of representative action employment litigation. She also counsels and advises employers on compliance with increasingly complex federal, state and local laws and regulations impacting California employers. Kate is a graduate of the University of California Hastings College of the Law, where she teaches Legal Writing, Research and Analysis to first year students. She was recognized as a Northern California Super Lawyer “Rising Star” in 2016 and 2017.


RJO Recognized in Who's Who Legal 2017 Rankings of Government Contracts Practitioners

On August 18, 2017, Who’s Who Legal released their 2017 rankings of Government Contracts practitioners. RJO was one of 26 firms recognized. Neil O'Donnell and Bob Metzger were identified among the 49 U.S. “Experts”. This year, WWL chose Bob Metzger as one of two leading international practitioners for the “Government Contracts 2017: Discussion.” His observations on several important issues can be found here.


Aaron Silberman Becomes Chair of the ABA’s Public Contract Law Section for 2017-18; Other RJO Attorneys Appointed to ABA Leadership Positions

At the American Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in New York City, on August 12, 2017, Aaron Silberman was elevated to Chair of the ABA’s Public Contract Law Section. He has served as an Officer since 2014, having completed his terms as Secretary (2014-15), Vice Chair (2015-16) and Chair Elect (2016-17).

Patricia Meagher, a former Chair of the Section, will serve as an honorary member of the Section Council and as a Fellow. She also will continue to serve as Section Liaison to the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession. Jeffery Chiow was reappointed as Co-Chair of the Section’s Cybersecurity, Privacy & Data Protection Committee and its Battlespace & Contingency Procurements Committee and as Vice Chair of the its Acquisition Reform & Emerging Issues Committee; Mr. Chiow was also appointed as a Vice Chair of the Section’s Bid Protest Committee. Robert Metzger was reappointed as Vice Chair of the Section’s Commercial Products and Services Committee; Mr. Metzger was also appointed as Vice Chair of the ABA Science & Technology Section’s Information Security Committee and to serve on the Steering Group of the ABA International Law Section’s International Anti-Corruption Committee. Brian Miller was reappointed as Vice Chair of the Public Contract Law Section’s Debarment and Suspension Committee. Stephen Bacon was appointed as Vice Chair of the Section’s Government Construction Contracts Committee and its Contract Claims and Disputes Resolution Committee.


BNA Article Quotes Brian D. Miller as an Expert on the FAR’s Mandatory Disclosure Rule

BNA quotes RJO Shareholder Brian D. Miller as an expert on the FAR’s Mandatory Disclosure Rule. Specifically, Miller stated that suspension and debarment is not appropriate for companies submitting mandatory disclosures. “The company is being responsible by reporting.” The full article is available here.

Reproduced with permission from Federal Contracts Report108 FCR (August 8, 2017). Copyright 2017 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033)


Ten RJO Attorneys Named "Super Lawyers" in Northern California and D.C. for 2017

Rogers Joseph O'Donnell is proud to announce that ten of its attorneys have been recognized by Super Lawyers as top attorneys for 2017 in Northern California and Washington, D.C. Merri Baldwin, Robert Goodman, John Heller, Roland Nikles, Neil O'Donnell and Aaron Silberman were named to the “Super Lawyers” list for the Northern California Region for 2017. Jeff Chiow and Lucas Hanback of our Washington, D.C. office and Lauren Kramer and Sharon Ongerth Rossi of our San Francisco office were recognized as 2017 “Rising Stars.” Ms. Baldwin and Mr. Heller were each recognized for their work in both Business Litigation and Professional Liability: Defense. Ms. Rossi was recognized her Employment Litigation work. Mr. Goodman was honored as a top Environmental Litigation lawyer. Ms. Kramer, Mr. Nikles, Mr. O’Donnell and Mr. Silberman were recognized for their work in Government Contracts and Construction Litigation, and Mr. Chiow and Mr. Hanback were recognized for Government Contracts. Super Lawyers annually names top lawyers throughout the country, chosen by their peers and through the independent research of Law & Politics. Super Lawyers selects the top 5 percent of Northern California attorneys in more than 60 practice areas. The list of Northern California Super Lawyers is published annually in the August issue of San Francisco Magazine and Northern California Super Lawyers.


BNA Article Quotes Brian D. Miller on False Claims Act and Buy American Issues

BNA quotes RJO Shareholder Brian D. Miller as an expert on False Claims Act and Buy American issues. Miller commented on the denial of summary judgment in a recent case involving alleged false claims based on alleged violations of the Buy American Act and the Trade Agreements Act. The full article is available here.


Chambers and Partners USA Recognizes RJO’s Government Contracts Group Again in 2017

For the thirteenth year in a row, Chambers and Partners USA has identified Rogers Joseph O'Donnell to be among the top government contracts law firms in the United States. RJO is honored to once again be the only boutique-sized firm recognized as ranking in the country's eight best government contracts firms. Chambers’ ratings, released on May 26, 2017, rate our government contracts practice in "Band 2," and recognizes four individual RJO attorneys.

Chambers describes our firm as “government contracting boutique capable of handling a diverse array of federal, state and local procurement mandates on behalf of domestic and foreign clients,” including “notable litigation and regulatory capabilities, which include internal investigations, false claims proceedings and bid protests.” Client comments noted by Chambers in its discussion of RJO’s strengths include that the firm is “delightful” and “efficient,” and that engaging RJO turned “what could have been a high-pressure, painful process [into] a much easier enterprise.”

Chambers ranks founding shareholder Neil O'Donnell as one of only ten top (“Band 1”) government contracts attorneys in the nation. Chambers describes Mr. O'Donnell as “seasoned litigator” and a “very smart and knowledgeable government contracts attorney.” Bob Metzger, who heads our Washington office, is ranked in Band 3 of top government contracts attorneys. Chambers highlighted Bob’s “particular focus on cybersecurity and supply chain security concerns faced by government contractors.” Patricia Meagher, ranked in Band 4, received enthusiastic support from her clients, who described her as “very, very smart” and a “really, really good lawyer.”  Shareholder Aaron Silberman is also cited as an "Other Noted Practitioner.”

We appreciate the recognition of our peers and clients. To view the Chambers and Partners USA rankings for Rogers Joseph O'Donnell, visit the Chambers and Partners USA Website.


The International Association of Independent Corporate Monitors Taps Shareholder Brian D. Miller as a Special Advisor

Shareholder Brian D. Miller has been appointed Special Advisor to the International Association of Independent Corporate Monitors. See International Association of Independent Corporate Monitors. Mr. Miller has served and currently serves as a corporate monitor in connection with civil and criminal matters involving federal agencies and the U.S. Department of Justice.


Robert Metzger Discusses Protecting CDI Remains a Challenge for Defense Contractors on Federal News Radio

For defense contractors, especially small businesses, protecting covered defense information (CDI) can be a complicated and costly undertaking. It’s the law now, and contractors have until the end of the year to comply. Shareholder Robert Metzger offers his take on Federal Drive with Tom Temin. Audio


RJO Welcomes E. Jacob Lubarsky

Rogers Joseph O’Donnell is pleased to announce that E. Jacob Lubarsky has joined the firm as an associate in our Environmental Law and Retail Industry Trade Regulation Practice Groups. Mr. Lubarsky has extensive experience in all facets of environmental and complex civil litigation matters. He possesses deep knowledge of California and United States environmental legal issues and has represented clients in matters arising under CERCLA, the Clean Water Act, FIFRA, the Endangered Species Act, and California’s Proposition 65 and the California Environmental Quality Act. He also has a wide-range of civil litigation experience. He is a graduate of Oberlin College and Golden Gate University School of Law, where he was co-founder and Symposium Editor of the University’s Environmental Law Journal. Jake comes to RJO from Dentons US LLP, where as a litigation associate, he handled a variety of environmental and general litigation matters, and acquired substantial trial experience.


Leading Technology Trade Association Issues Cyber White Paper Authored by Robert S. Metzger

On March 27, 2017, the IT Alliance for Public Sector (ITAPS) released a white paper authored by RJO shareholder Bob Metzger, on pending federal initiatives to use regulations and contract requirements to improve contractor protection of federal information and data against cyber threats. The paper, titled Federal Actions to Enable Contractors to Protect “Covered Defense Information” and “Controlled Unclassified Information," comes as contractors are growing concerned over the increasingly complicated regulatory landscape they face to ensure information assurance while providing services to federal agencies. Bob, who is the head of RJO’s office in Washington, D.C., is nationally recognized for expertise in cyber and supply chain security. ITAPs, a unit of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC), is a leading technology trade association whose members include a diverse mix of leading commercial and public sector companies from the IT, communications, and defense industrial base sectors.


Three RJO Attorneys Ranked in Who’sWhoLegal
Construction 2017

Who’sWhoLegal, published by Law Business Research Ltd in the UK, has just named three Rogers Joseph O'Donnell attorneys in its published ratings of construction law practitioners in 2017. RJO founder Neil O'Donnell, Aaron Silberman, and Roland Nikles were among the 1,177 “leaders in the field” worldwide and 49 leaders in California (tied for the most among San Francisco law offices). (Who'sWhoLegal)


The Defense Science Board (DSB) Report on Cyber Supply
Chain - Robert S. Metzger Member of Cyber Supply Chain Study

The Defense Science Board (DSB) has released a Report on Cyber Supply Chain that examines malicious supply chain risk and latent vulnerabilities in key national defense systems. For 60 years, the DSB has served the nation by providing innovative solutions to myriad technological, operational, and managerial problems. The Board is comprised of nearly 50 retired senior military, government, scientific and industry leaders. Bob Metzger, head of RJO's Washington, DC office, was a member of the study team that produced the Cyber Supply Chain Report. He is recognized for his expertise and cyber and supply chain security. Federal Computer Week in 2016, named him a “Federal 100” awardee for his contributions to industry and government on the convergence of cyber and supply chain security.”


Article Quotes Aaron Silberman re Recent Attorney Arrest for Attempt to Sell Court-Sealed Information to Federal False Claims Act Defendant

RJO government contracts attorney Aaron Silberman, was quoted in the Federal Contracts Report (FCR) for February 21, 2017, in an article titled “’Shock Is the Word’ for Lawsuit Sale Bust, Attorneys Say” (107 FCR, 2/21/17). The article reports on federal agents’ arrest of a law firm attorney accused of trying to sell access to a sealed False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit to a potential defendant. Mr. Silberman described the incident as a symptom of larger problems with the FCA and opined that flaws in the statute make this type of misconduct possible. “This is obviously a very strange and unusual case, but it is a symptom of a greater infirmity of the FCA. ... The liability defendants may suffer and the rewards whistleblowers and the Government may enjoy are in many cases highly disproportionate to the wrong.” The FCA is a watered-down fraud statute (no intent to defraud required, rank-and-file employee knowledge imputed to employer management, etc.) with draconian consequences (triple damages, high penalties regardless of actual damage caused, debarment, etc.). As a result, Mr. Silberman states in the article: “it is hardly surprising that, in many instances, people are tempted to act, and do act, in ways that do not serve the FCA’s purpose of deterring, detecting and remedying fraud against the government.” While Mr. Silberman had not seen actions like those alleged here, he mentioned other cases of abuses caused by the same problems with the FCA, such as those involving “lawyers breaching their ethical duties to their clients and government insiders breaching their job duties to report suspected fraud internally, both by blowing the whistle in attempts to get the relator’s bounty.” Article


Aaron Silberman Quoted re Cal. State Bar Lobbyist Procurement

Aaron Silberman, a shareholder in RJO’s Government Contracts Group, was quoted in a Los Angeles Daily Journal article, dated Tuesday, January 10, 2017, “State Bar housed employee in lobbyist’s office for years.” The article discusses procurement and government ethics issues arising from the State Bar’s housing one of its employees in its outside lobbyist’s Sacramento office and the impact of that arrangement on the State Bar’s upcoming procurement of those services. Mr. Silberman commented that, in order to prevent the incumbent contractor from receiving any undue advantage in the new competition, and to avoid even the appearance of such an advantage, the State Bar employee should be walled off from the procurement. Go to (subscription required) to see the full article.


Lauren Kramer is Elevated to Shareholder

RJO is pleased to announce that Lauren Kramer has been elected a shareholder of the firm.

Ms. Kramer’s practice emphasizes government contracts, complex commercial litigation and white collar criminal defense. She represents government contractors in the full spectrum of litigation matters, from bid protests to internal investigations to contract disputes. Her commercial litigation practice focuses on breach of contract, fraud and trade secret disputes. Ms. Kramer also represents individuals and companies that are the subject of a criminal investigation or have been charged with a crime, as well as third-party witnesses. She currently serves as an arbitrator for the Attorney Fee Disputes Committee for the Bar Association of San Francisco.

Ms. Kramer joined the firm in 2011 as an associate and was elected shareholder effective January 1, 2017. She earned her BA from Stanford University and graduated from The University of Chicago, The Law School, where she was honored with the Ann Watson Barber Outstanding Service Award.


RJO Welcomes Stephen L. Bacon

Rogers Joseph O’Donnell is pleased to announce that Stephen L. Bacon has joined our D.C. office as an associate in Government Contracts, Construction and Complex Commercial Litigation Practice Groups. Prior to joining the firm, he served as a Trial Attorney for the Department of the Navy where he litigated claims involving government contracts for construction, services and systems that support important military programs. He has litigated high-value cases before the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals and the Court of Federal Claims involving a variety of issues facing government contractors including constructive changes, terminations, delay claims and breach of contract actions brought under various legal theories. Stephen graduated summa cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law. During his time in law school, he served as an editor of the law review, published a law review note, received the Dean’s Certificate of Achievement Award for Legal Research and Writing and placed first in the John T. Gaubatz Moot Court Competition.


Merri A. Baldwin Elected President of the Bar Association of San Francisco for 2017

Merri A. Baldwin has been elected President of the Bar Association of San Francisco for 2017. In that role, she will head both the Bar Association and the Justice and Diversity Center, which provides pro bono legal services to low income clients in San Francisco in the areas of housing, family law, homeless services and other areas. Merri has served as an officer of BASF for the past three years. Her practice focuses on the areas of business litigation and attorney conduct. Link to article


Article Quotes Brian D. Miller on False Claims Act Enforcement

Shareholder and False Claims Act Expert Brian D. Miller is quoted extensively and relied upon for this article.


RJO Attorneys Obtain Summary Judgment for Northrop Grumman in Major F-35 False Claims Act Case

In a False Claims Act case that sought several hundred million dollars in recovery from contractors Northrop Grumman Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp., the Northern District of Texas granted summary judgment to the contractors on all counts. A retired compliance monitor at RJO client Northrop Grumman alleged that the contractors improperly used funds from other budgets to mask cost overruns on the F-35 System Development and Demonstration contract in order to obtain award fees to which the contractors were not entitled. The court agreed with the RJO team’s arguments that how the contractors used the budgets in question had been publicly disclosed before the whistleblower brought his claim, and that the former monitor did not meet the False Claims Act’s “original source” definition, a status which would have saved his ability to bring the claims. In particular, the court determined that because the relator’s job responsibilities required him to provide his findings regarding the contractors’ use of budgets directly to the government, the plaintiff did not meet the original source requirement that he voluntarily provide to the government the information on which his claims were based.

The case is United States of America ex rel. Paul J. Solomon v. Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. (PDF of Decision). RJO attorneys Neil O'Donnell, Dennis Callahan and Jeff Chiow represented Northrop Grumman. Opinion


Article Quotes Aaron Silberman re Supreme Court Decision on Consequences of Relators’ Violations of the Federal False Claims Act Seal Provision

RJO government contracts attorney Aaron Silberman, was quoted in the Federal Contracts Report (FCR) for December 13, 2016, in an article titled “State Farm Can’t Dodge Katrina Lawsuit Based on Seal Violation” (106 FCR, 12/13/16). The article reports on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in State Farm Fire & Casualty v. U.S., ex rel. Rigsby, which affirmed the Fifth Circuit’s decision that dismissal of a qui tam lawsuit is not required where a relator/whistleblower plaintiff fails to adhere to the FCA requirement that those types of lawsuits be filed under seal and not be served on the defendants until the trial court orders the seal lifted. The Court held that the District Courts have discretion over the appropriate penalty, if any, for such violations. Mr. Silberman identified one potentially useful portion of the opinion for defendants. In the Court’s rejection of arguments that dismissals are necessary when seal violations damage reputations, “The court stated that dismissal remains a possible remedy, within the trial court’s discretion, as do lesser sanctions. ... Implicit in this response is that district courts may consider potential reputational harm to defendants in deciding how to sanction relators who violate the seal, up to and including dismissal. This was not always clear under prior lower court decisions regarding seal violations.” Article


RJO Employment Attorneys Recover Fees for Employer in
Wage and Hour Action

Attorneys from RJO’s employment group successfully obtain an attorney’s fee award against a class member who attempted to get around a wage and hour class settlement by bringing an independent wage claim with the labor commissioner. The labor commissioner originally dismissed the wage claim as it was barred by the class settlement. The class member appealed the labor commissioner’s dismissal resulting in trial de novo proceedings in Superior Court. After RJO attorneys successfully moved to enjoin the appeal, the Court granted RJO’s motion for attorney’s fees. The clients were represented by RJO attorneys Sharon Rossi, Aaron Scolari and Dennis Huie.


Metzger White Paper on Cloud Security Released

Robert Metzger, head of RJO's Washington, D.C. office, has released a new "White Paper" on Security as a Service. Sponsored by Exostar, a cloud-based solution provider that assists companies in aerospace and defense, life sciences, and healthcare, the paper advocates new initiatives to enable defense contractors and other federal suppliers to utilize commercial cloud services to secure "Covered Defense Information" and other "Controlled Unclassified Information." Bob was recognized with a "Federal 100" award in 2016 by Federal Computer Week for his contributions to government and industry policy on cyber and supply chain security.


Two RJO Attorneys Ranked in Who’sWhoLegal
Government Contracts 2016

Who’sWhoLegal, published by Law Business Research Ltd, in the UK, has just named two Rogers Joseph O'Donnell attorneys in its published ratings of government contracts practitioners in 2016. RJO founder Neil O'Donnell is listed for California and Robert Metzger is listed for the District of Columbia. Neil and Bob were among the 398 “leaders in the field” worldwide and 49 leaders in the United States. (Who'sWhoLegal)


RJO Succeeds In Disrupting Army’s Planned Sole Source Helicopter Purchase

A lawsuit brought by RJO on behalf of helicopter company AgustaWestland North America, a subsidiary of Italian defense company Leonardo-Finmeccanica, has at least slowed, and perhaps halted, Army plans to undertake further sole source purchases of light utility helicopters from Airbus Helicopter, Inc. In a ruling on August 15, 2016, the Court of Federal Claims issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the Army from further helicopter purchases at this time. The Court firmly rejected the Army’s attempt to justify an immediate sole source purchase of 16 helicopters for initial pilot training and suggested concern about the Army’s apparent standardization decision that could lead to its buying 97 more of the Airbus helicopters for training and light utility purposes. The Court gave the Army three choices: hold a competitive procurement; try again to justify a sole source purchase; or cancel the procurement. Several elements in the Court’s opinion suggest that the Army may have significant hurdles to overcome if it tries again to justify a sole source buy from AgustaWestland’s competitor. The RJO lawyers on this matter were Neil O'Donnell, Jeff Chiow , Dennis Callahan and Lucas Hanback.


RJO Construction Attorney Obtains 11-1 Jury Verdict in Dispute Over Re-Paving of Highway 128 in Napa

Tyson Arbuthnot recently obtained an 11 to 1 jury verdict on behalf of client Chester Bross Construction in Napa County Superior Court. Chester Bross is a heavy civil construction company that works on numerous Caltrans projects. This case involved a $3 Million Caltrans re-paving project on Highway 128, one of the main thoroughfares for California’s wine country. Mr. Arbuthnot defeated a material supplier’s payment claim for highway paving emulsion it provided to the project. Mr. Arbuthnot proved that the emulsion was defective and caused the asphalt paving to fail on portions of the highway. Accordingly, the jury found that the supplier did not meet its contract obligations, so no payments were due for the defective emulsion. The jury deliberated for only 45 minutes after a week-long trial. Alan Wilhelmy served as co-counsel, and provided critical guidance throughout the trial.


Brian D. Miller Discusses Recent Supreme Court Case on Bloomberg Radio

Shareholder Brian D. Miller discussed the recent Supreme Court case on the False Claims Act with Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman on “Bloomberg Law: High Court Gives UHS Partial Win.” Audio


Brian D. Miller Quoted on the Supreme Court's False Claims
Act Case

Brian D. Miller comments on the Supreme Court’s False Claims Act case. He was quoted in the BNA Federal Contracts Report article entitled, “Supreme Court Upholds False Claim Implied Certification Theory.” Article


RJO Government Contracts Group and Lawyers Recognized
by The Legal 500 for 2016

The Legal 500 for 2016 has ranked RJO among the top six law firms and Neil O'Donnell among the top ten lawyers in the U.S. in Government Contracts. It also noted RJO’s Bob Metzger, Jeff Chiow and Brian D. Miller in our D.C. office, and Patricia Meagher and Mark Linderman in San Francisco. The Legal 500

The Legal 500 found that, in the practice areas it highlights, “[o]nly a small number of firms in the US have a truly national presence coupled with the capability to handle sophisticated and complex work.” For Government Contracts, The Legal 500 recognized only six law firms in its top two tiers. RJO is proud to have been ranked among those six firms – the only boutique law firm to have been so recognized.

The Legal 500 describes RJO’s team as “a well-established practice across a range of industries” that “regularly handles complex claims.” It describes recent RJO bid protest successes representing CGI Federal “in a bid protest against the Navy’s award of a $2.5bn IDIQ contract for the inter-ship CANES consolidated communication systems” and DRS Technologies “in challenging the award of an Army technical services contract to Lockheed Martin.”

In addition to ranking Mr. O’Donnell as a “Leading lawyer” – one of ten nationally for Government Contracts this year, The Legal 500 quoted a source saying he “has a world of experience, excellent judgment, an even temperament, and is terrific in collaborating fully with others on complex matters.” Regarding our D.C. office lawyers, it described Mr. Metzger as a “[c]yber and supply chain security expert” and noted RJO’s elevation of Mr. Chiow to partner and, in November 2015, that “it was strengthened by the addition of former managing director of Navigant Consulting Brian Miller, who handles sensitive compliance and enforcement issues.” Regarding our San Francisco office lawyers, both Ms. Meagher and Mr. Linderman are described as “standout names.”

For 28 years, The Legal 500 has been analyzing the capabilities of law firms across the world, with a comprehensive research program revised and updated every year to bring the most up-to-date vision of the global legal market. The Legal 500 rankings are based on a series of criteria; it highlights the practice area teams that are providing the most cutting edge and innovative advice to corporate counsel. Its research is conducted by a team of experienced researchers – which includes both qualified journalists and lawyers – and is based on feedback from 250,000 clients worldwide, submissions from law firms and interviews with leading private practice lawyers, and a team of researchers who have unrivalled experience in the legal market.


Protest Wins Client Contract Under $22 Billion VA Program

RJO attorneys Neil O'Donnell, Jeff Chiow and Lucas Hanback secured a significant contract for their client after the Department of Veterans Affairs took corrective action in response to a bid protest at GAO. The protest involved contracts issued for Information Technology service solutions under the VA’s Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology Next Generation (T4NG) multiple-award contract. Failure to obtain such a contract meant that a company would be shut out of satisfying any of the VA’s IT needs for as much as 10 years. RJO challenged various aspects of the award decision, focusing principally on the Agency’s method of determining whether offeror’s prices were realistic. After RJO filed a supplemental protest responding to the Agency’s defense of its actions, GAO engaged in an outcome prediction teleconference in which it indicated that it was inclined to sustain the protest on grounds alleged by RJO. In response, the VA took corrective action and awarded the client a contract under this $22 billion program.


Pro Bono Win for Navy Veteran

RJO won a significant pro bono victory for a former Navy Chief Petty Officer, who was discharged from the service involuntarily after 19 ½ years. Well over 11 years of his service time had been spent deployed overseas in combat tours away from his wife and children. His involuntary separation was based upon convictions in civilian court for assault and attempted malicious wounding, in an incident involving his estranged wife and her boyfriend. While in jail awaiting trial, the Navy mistakenly continued to pay him for a time. Even though he questioned the payments at the time, the Navy sought to recover nearly $80,000 in pay and over $50,000 in fees and penalties. The civilian review board with jurisdiction to ensure that service members are treated fairly looked at all available evidence, including his exemplary service record and post-separation conduct, concluding that he had suffered long enough for this one mistake. It concluded that, while not condoning his conduct, he should be credited with six months of service and retired. But the Secretary of the Navy overruled that recommendation in a half-page page decision. The Court of Federal Claims agreed with RJO that the Secretary’s decision was arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable and not supported by substantial evidence. The decision is available on the Court's website.

The court ordered that RJO’s client be retired with all pay and benefits, allowing the Navy to offset from his back pay only the $80,000 overpayment, but no fees or penalties. Lucas Hanback argued the case with Jeff Chiow on the briefs. Lucas was an artillery officer and Jeff an F/A-18D Naval Flight Officer, both serving combat tours in the U.S. Marine Corps, before they became lawyers.


RJO Persuades Transit Agency That Client Has No Organizational Conflict of Interest

RJO attorney Joseph McGowan succeeded in persuading the Los Angeles Metro to state, in advance of receiving proposals, that RJO’s client, B&C Transit, Inc., had no organizational conflict of interest (“OCI”). B&C Transit had prepared design drawings for a prior LA Metro project, which had been cancelled. B&C’s drawings were subsequently repackaged by LA Metro as part of a more comprehensive solicitation for the Blue Line Signal Rehabilitation Project. B&C Transit wanted to participate as the signaling design/builder for the Blue Line Signal Rehabilitation Project, but lead proposers for the project were unwilling to include B&C Transit on their team due to concerns that the presence of B&C’s design drawings in the Blue Line solicitation would lead to the disqualification of the team on OCI grounds. The LA Metro’s initial position was that the agency does not take a position on OCI’s prior to the submission of formal proposals. Such a policy would have effectively barred B&C Transit, because no lead proposer would risk including B&C Transit, due to the possibility of being disqualified on OCI grounds. RJO persuaded the LA Metro Ethics Department and Los Angeles County Counsel to deviate from the normal policy and issue a letter finding that participation by B&C was not an OCI. The letter was issued prior to the deadline for prequalification for the project, thereby allowing B&C Transit to submit a sub-proposal for the project.


RJO Obtains Swift Back-to-Back Wins, Preserving Major Government IT Contract

RJO recently scored back-to-back wins for client Primescape Solutions, Inc. RJO first got involved a year ago, when Jeff Chiow and Lucas Hanback successfully protested a Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) award of a 3-year contract to manage the military’s STORES system that controls ordering and receipt of food and other subsistence items. Following that victory, DLA made a new decision to award the STORES contract to RJO’s client in January 2016. RJO helped DLA successfully defend the new award; the decision was made available at GAO's Website on April 1. The protestor refiled its case at the Court of Federal Claims days later. In that action, RJO successfully defeated motions for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction by demonstrating that the protestor was unlikely to succeed on the merits and that RJO’s client would be significantly harmed by the issuance of an injunction. At the conclusion of oral arguments on April 20, the Court denied the protestor’s requests for injunctive relief. Soon thereafter the protestor voluntarily dismissed its Complaint.


RJO Helps Client Defend BART Contract Award

RJO attorneys Aaron Silberman and Lauren Kramer helped client MERMEC Inc. defend its contract award by the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) to provide a track geometry car, a custom rail car outfitted with sophisticated diagnostic and measurement systems to monitor the BART commuter rail system. RJO successfully defended MERMEC in an administrative bid protest of the proposed BART award, brought by a disappointed bidder and decided by the BART Procurement Department. RJO also successfully defended MERMEC against a petition filed by another disappointed bidder with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. RJO assisted MERMEC in the FTA’s pre-award audit and in proving that the petition’s allegation – that MERMEC’s proposal did not meet Buy America requirements – was wholly without merit.


Robert S. Metzger Recognized as 2016 “Federal 100” Awardee

Bob Metzger, head of the firm’s Washington, D.C. office, was recognized as a recipient of the 2016 "Federal 100" Award for significant contributions to federal government information technology.

On April 1, 2016, Federal Computer Week (FCW) published details about this year's recipients. About Bob Metzger, FCW said: "In addition to his legal practice, Metzger serves as vice chair of the IT Alliance for Public Sector's Cyber/Supply Chain Assurance Committee, where he helps industry respond to government guidance and regulatory actions. He brings a deep understanding of the statutes and legal underpinnings of those efforts, combined with an ability to integrate policy, regulation and technology, and he has helped industry have a voice in those deliberations. In 2015, he was at the forefront of the convergence of the supply chain and cybersecurity, and his work continues to influence the strategies of federal entities and companies alike." FCW's Comments.


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Recent Publications

State and Local Construction Projects: An Attorney's Handbook (PDF author bios and table of contents), ABA Publishing, 2017, Chapter 11 “Subcontracting on State and Local Public Projects”

California Department of Pesticide Regulation Updated Registration Requirement, RJO Update, July 2017 (co-authored)

Navigating Defense Department Cyber Rules, National Defense, Apr. 21, 2017, by R. Metzger

Navigating Bid Protests Caused By DOD Cybersecurity Rules, Law360, Apr. 18, 2017 (PDF) co-authored

RJO-Authored Cyber Security White Paper Now Released, RJO Update, Apr. 2017, by R. Metzger

JESD243: An Industry Standard for COUNTERFEIT ELECTRONIC PARTS – or Something Less? Counterfeit avoidance standards need additional detail for addressing and mitigating key risks, Counterfeit Mitigation, Mar. 2017 (PDF) co-authored

Cyber Protection of CDI: Changed Requirements, New Methods, More Questions, Bloomberg Law, Federal Contracts Report, 107 FCR 217, Feb. 28, 2017, by R. Metzger (PDF)

"Cyber/Physical Security and the IoT: National Security Considerations," Moderator, RSA 2017 Conference, Feb. 17, 2017, by R. Metzger

Considerations for canceling state, local agency contract, San Francisco Daily Journal, Nov. 7,  2016, by A. Silberman

Assembly Bill 1793 Broadens Substantial Compliance Exception to Contractors Licensing Law , RJO Update, Nov. 2016, by D. Aron

Blacklisting Provisions and Arbitration Restrictions of “Fair Payand Safe Workplaces” Rules On Hold … For Now; Paycheck Transparency Provisions Go Into Effect January 1, 2017, RJO Update, Oct. 2016 (co-authored)

Fair Pay-Safe Workplaces: The “On-Hold” Rules and Guidance, RJO Update, Oct. 2016 (co-authored)

Sidestepping the Escobar Two-Step: United States ex rel. Rose v. Stephens Institute Rejects Two-Pronged Test, Bloomberg BNA, Federal Contracts Report, Oct. 18, 2016, co-authored by B. Miller and D. Callahan (PDF)

New Proposition 65 Warning Regulations Adopted, RJO Update, Retail Industry Trade Regulation, September  2016 (co-authored)

White Paper, “Security as a Service: Incorporating NIST 800-171 Requirements into the Defense Supply Chain," sponsored by Exostar, Sept. 2016 by R. Metzger (PDF)

Hiring the Right Monitor to Help Your Company and Not Hurt It, Corporate Counsel Magazine, August 18, 2016, co-authored by B. Miller (pdf)

Guide to Fixed-Price Supply Subcontract Terms and Conditions, Fifth Edition, ABA Publishing, 2016, by A. Silberman, contributing author (ABA Webstore)

Client Alert: U.S. Supreme Court Adopts Implied Certification Liability for Federal Contractors under the False Claims Act and Leaves it to the Courts to Sort out the Rest , RJO Update, June 2016 (co-authored)

All Employers, Including California Employers, Should Review their Compensation Practices for White Collar Employees, RJO Update, May 2016 (co-authored)

Client Alert: U.S. Supreme Court to Rule on False Claims Act: A Lawyer’s Game?, RJO Update, May 2016 (co-authored)

New State Legislation Offers Protection to Small Businesses From Predatory Disabled Access Lawsuits, RJO Update, May 2016 (co-authored)

May 11, 2016 Deadline to Post Proposition 65 Warnings for Food and Beverage-Based BPA Exposures, RJO Update, Apr. 2016 (co-authored)
See Re-adoption of BPA Emergency Regulation as of 9/16/2016

How State and Local Public Agencies May (or May Not) Terminate Construction Contracts, The Construction Lawyer, Vol. 36, No. 2, Spring  2016 (PDF) by A. Silberman

California Employers: New Harassment and Discrimination Regulations Go Into Effect April 1, 2016, RJO Update, Mar. 2016 (co-authored)

The U.S. Supreme Court Stays the Implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan Pending the Completion of All Legal Challenges, RJO Update, Mar. 2016 (co-authored)

State & Local: Square Peg, Round Hole: Bid Protests in Nontraditional Construction Procurement, The Procurement Lawyer, Winter 2016 (PDF) by A. Silberman

Citizen Guide for Effective Participation in Hydropower Licensing Before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Hydropower Reform Coalition, Nov. 2015, by N. Niiro (co-authored)

Cybersecurity and the Federal Supply Schedule: What to Expect, RJO Update, Nov. 2015 (co-authored)

GSA’s Class Deviation for Commercial Supplier Agreements, RJO Update, Sept. 2015 (co-authored)

New California Family Rights Act Regulations: Employers with 50 or More Employees in California Should Ensure Existing Policies, Practices, Forms and Postings Are up to Date, RJO Update, July 2015 (co-authored)

California Employers Must Provide Paid Sick Leave Benefits to Most Employees,
RJO Update, July 2015 (co-authored)

Threats to the Supply Chain: Extending Federal Cybersecurity Safeguards to the Commercial Sector, Bloomberg BNA, 14 PVLR 1010, June 8, 2015, by R. Metzger (PDF)

Litigating Bid Protests Before the New York Office of State Comptroller, The Procurement Lawyer, June 2015 (PDF) by D. Callahan

Cybersecurity and Acquisition Practices: New Initiatives to Protect Federal Information of Civilian Agencies, Bloomberg BNA, 97 DER B-1, May 20, 2015, by R. Metzger (PDF)

Mitigating the Adverse Effects of Hydropower Projects: A Comparative Review of River Restoration and Hydropower Regulation in Sweden and the United States, The Georgetown Int’l Envtl. Law Review, Vol. 27:251, Apr. 2015, by N. Niiro (PDF) (co-authored)

Cybersecurity for the Rest of Us: Protecting Federal Information of Civilian Agencies, Bloomberg BNA Federal Contracts Report, 103 FCR, Mar. 10, 2015, by R. Metzger (PDF)

Key Changes to California Employment Law in 2015, RJO Update, January 2015,

Litigation Strategies for Gov. Contracts, 2015 ed.: Leading Lawyers on Understanding the False Claims Act, Filing Bid Protests, and Working with Gov. Agencies (Inside the Minds), Thompson Reuters, 2014, by A. Silberman (opening ch., titled “Gov. Contracts Litigation in 2014 and Beyond: More Protests and Enforcement Actions, Fewer but Better Claims, and ADR Early and Often”) Thompson Reuters