News & Events

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.


Two RJO Government Contracts Attorneys Named DC Super Lawyers Rising Stars for 2016

Jeff Chiow and Lucas Hanback were both selected for the third straight year as Rising Stars among DC Government Contracts attorneys by Super Lawyers. The selection process involves peer nominations, followed by a research-based winnowing of candidates. Up to 5% of lawyers can be named Super Lawyers with another 2.5% eligible to be named Rising Stars if they are under 40 and/or have been practicing fewer than 10 years.


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.


Brian D. Miller Interviewed in Federal News Radio Broadcast

On March 15, 2016, Federal News Radio broadcast an interview of RJO shareholder Brian D. Miller about how federal contractors may face more lawsuits under the civil False Claims Act for what many view as simply disputes about contract terms, conditions, and performance. The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in one such case, U.S. ex rel. Escobar v. Universal Health Services, Inc. on April 19th. Brian explains what is going on with this disturbing new trend.

The last part of the interview centers on Brian’s experiences as a corporate monitor. A corporation and federal suspension/debarment official selected Brian to a monitor in a suspension and debarment matter. As a monitor, Brian serves as a “trusted objective third party” assisting the corporation and assessing its compliance programs. In the radio interview conducted by Roger Waldron of The Coalition for Government Procurement, Brian talks about many issues facing many federal contractors including new Department of Justice guidelines, referred to as the “Yates Memo.” 45-minute interview.


RJO Welcomes David E. Aron

Rogers Joseph O’Donnell is pleased to announce that David E. Aron has joined the firm as an associate in our Construction and Labor & Employment Practice Groups. Prior to practicing law, Dave was an Engineer and Superintendent for the Kiewit Corporation, one of the largest contractors in the world. As a Kiewit Superintendent, he planned and supervised all phases of bridge and water treatment plant construction. Dave is a graduate of the University of California Hastings College of Law. At Hastings, he was an active member of the Moot Court Department, competing on and coaching moot court teams, and serving on the Moot Court Board. Dave also has experience with legal malpractice and insurance liability issues.


RJO Fends Off Protest of Award for Jetty Rehabilitation

The GAO has ruled in favor of RJO’s client in denying a bid protest of an award by the Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers, for the rehabilitation of Jetty A on the mouth of the Columbia River. RJO lawyers, Neil O'Donnell, Jeff Chiow and Josh Deitz, helped convince GAO to deny the protest, as the Corps of Engineers’ decision to award the contract to RJO’s client was reasonable based on the awardee’s significant advantage in past performance and past experience. GAO agreed with RJO’s argument that, while the protestor disagreed with the agency’s ratings, it could not show that those ratings were unreasonable, and thus Corps acted properly in granting the contract to the awardee. The decision is available at GAO's website.


John Heller Appointed Chair of Litigation Section Executive Committee of San Francisco Bar Association

John G. Heller, has been appointed Chair of the Executive Committee of the Litigation Section of the San Francisco Bar Association. The Executive Committee organizes presentations on trial techniques and other matters of litigation interest,  and serves as a liaison between members of the Bar and the San Francisco Superior Court.


Merri A. Baldwin Appointed President-Elect of the Bar Association of San Francisco

Merri A. Baldwin has been appointed the President-Elect of the Bar Association of San Francisco and the Justice and Diversity Center. The Bar Association of San Francisco and the Justice and Diversity Center promotes professional development, provides free or low-cost legal services to clients in San Francisco, provides pro bono opportunities and training, and supports numerous programs aimed at increasing the diversity of the legal profession and leadership within the community. For more information, go to: The Bar Association of San Francisco.


Jeffery M. Chiow and Sharon Ongerth Rossi are Elevated to Shareholder

RJO is pleased to announce that Jeffery M. Chiow and Sharon Ongerth Rossi have been elected shareholders of the firm.

Mr. Chiow practices Government Contracts from our D.C. office. His practice encompasses litigation, investigations and compliance for defense, space and information technology companies. He has extensive experience in federal as well as state and local bid protest cases, and in defense of actions brought under the False Claims Act. He has been recognized by Chambers USA and SuperLawyers among prominent Government Contracts attorneys. He joined the firm in 2011 as an associate and was elected shareholder effective January 1, 2016. A 2008 graduate of The George Washington University Law School, Mr. Chiow is a former U.S. Marine Corps aviation officer. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1997.

Ms. Rossi is a member of our firm’s Labor & Employment, Complex Commercial Litigation and Attorney Liability & Conduct practice groups in our SF office. Ms. Rossi’s practice is focused on complex litigation in state and federal courts, with an emphasis on class action defense. She has extensive experience defending employers before federal and state administrative agencies and routinely counsels both large and small employers on a wide array of workplace issues. Ms. Rossi is a 2004 graduate of Loyola of Los Angeles Law School. She joined the firm in 2011 as an associate and was elected shareholder effective January 1, 2016. Ms. Rossi currently serves as the Contra Costa County Regional Chair for Northern California Human Resources Association (NCHRA).


Technical Services Protest Sustained On All Grounds

RJO attorneys successfully challenged the Army’s award of a 2-year $50M contract for various services in support of the Army’s mobile, computer-based battlefield intelligence system, Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS). Neil O'Donnell, Lauren Kramer and Jeff Chiow convinced GAO to uphold all three grounds of a protest against the Army’s award resulting in a recommendation that the Army amend the solicitation, reevaluate revised proposals and perform a more complete organizational conflict of interest (OCI) investigation.

The awardee had submitted a lower price by cutting the hours its employees would work on the contract, but RJO successfully argued that the Agency had accepted that approach without any justification, thus violating the terms of the solicitation. The competing offers also differed in their approaches to transition from the incumbent contractor, an issue GAO addressed under its rarely used authority to consider otherwise untimely protest issues that are of “significant interest to the procurement community.” GAO said the Army’s evaluation approach, which effectively penalized offerors who transitioned services more rapidly, was not reasonable or rational, and failed to provide for a common apples-to-apples comparison of costs.

RJO also achieved a rare sustained OCI protest after the agency had already done an OCI investigation. The protest claimed the awardee had impaired objectivity. RJO argued that, as written, the solicitation would call upon the awardee to evaluate its own engineering work, including evaluating software documentation and inspecting software code that the awardee itself had provided under a different contract. Because the OCI Report did not discuss these potential opportunities for the awardee to be responsible for inspecting its own work, GAO sustained this aspect of the protest. The decision is available at GAO's website.


Article Quotes Aaron Silberman re Circuit Court Split on Effect of Relator Violations of Federal False Claims Act's Seal Provision

RJO government contracts attorney Aaron Silberman was quoted in the Federal Contracts Report (FCR) for November 6, 2015, reporting on a significant split among Federal Circuit Courts on the consequences where a relator/whistleblower plaintiff fails to adhere to the federal False Claims Act (FCA) provision requiring that qui tam actions be filed under seal and not served on the defendant(s) until the trial court orders the seal lifted (typically occurring after the Government decides whether to intervene in the case). Last summer, the Fourth and Fifth circuits followed precedent from the Second and Ninth circuits, holding that seal violations should not necessarily result in dismissal of these cases. These holdings conflict with Sixth Circuit precedent, which has a rigid per se dismissal rule for relators' violations. In the FCR article, Mr. Silberman is quoted as saying that there is clearly a circuit split; that, while disputes over violations of FCA seal requirements are not that common, “the results if a district court gets it wrong, to any party’s detriment, may be significant"; and that, as a result, "Supreme Court guidance would be a welcome development.” He is also quoted as stating that, because the FCA is unclear about the consequences of a relator's failure to comply with the seal provisions, a case-by-case approach is appropriate and that “[g]uidance would be very helpful regarding how courts should weigh factors such as the kind and amount of information revealed, the relator’s culpability, the likely harm to the government’s ability to investigate, and the likely harm to the defendant’s reputation.” The article further quotes him as opining that no one factor should trump all others but that “significant impairment of the government’s ability to investigate clearly should be among the most important considerations.” Finally, he is quoted as adding that “where the combination of factors justify it, the court should dismiss the relator’s complaint even where the government does not request it, though it would certainly be appropriate for the court to take the government’s position on dismissal into account.” Article


RJO Welcomes Brian D. Miller

Rogers Joseph O’Donnell is pleased to announce that Brian D. Miller has has joined the firm's D.C. office as a shareholder. Brian has a distinguished record of public service. As Inspector General of the GSA from 2005 until May 2014, Brian was highly regarded for his vigilance in prevention of public waste and corruption. Earlier, Brian held several notable positions at the Department of Justice, including a senior management role at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, Special Counsel on Health Care Fraud/Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General, and as an AUSA in the Eastern District. Most recently, Brian was a Managing Director of Navigant Consulting.

Brian brings to RJO a wealth of government experience and understanding of what motivates regulators and how officials at federal agencies think and act. Through his years of service, Brian has developed relationships with key regulators and Justice Department officials, and he has earned the respect of law enforcement officials. Brian combines expertise as a traditional government contracts lawyer with practice experience as both a federal prosecutor and a white collar defense lawyer. He has particular expertise in handling matters involving complex procurement fraud allegations, internal compliance reviews and investigations, and suspension and debarment.

To see the full press release announcing Brian’s arrival at the firm, click here.


Aaron Silberman Quoted on Important New Fourth Circuit Decision on Federal False Claims Act

RJO government contracts attorney Aaron Silberman was quoted in the Federal Contracts Report (FCR) for October 27, 2015 (104 FCR 1081), reporting on a significant federal False Claims Act (FCA) decision in an article titled “Fourth Circuit: Student Loan Entity Can Face FCA Claims." In the article, Mr. Silberman comments on the significance of United States ex rel. Oberg v. Pa. Higher Educ. Assistance Agency (2015 BL 346130, 4th Cir., No. 15-1093, 10/21/15) on the extent to which an entity created by a State government that receives federal funds may be liable under the federal FCA or is instead immune under the Eleventh Amendment as an “arm-of-the-state.” For the third time, the Fourth Circuit reversed a district court decision dismissing the relator’s FCA claims against the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA): the first two on motions to dismiss, and this time on summary judgment. While not ruling in PHEAA’s favor, the opinion is helpful to State-created entity defendants in the sense that it says the issue of whether a defendant is an arm of the state is a legal issue for the court to decide. The court applied a four factor test. It gave much greater weight to the first and second factors and construed them unfavorably to State-created entity defendants. It applied the first, threshold factor – whether the State treasury is liable for the defendant’s acts – narrowly, holding that even though a judgment against the PHEAA would be paid out of the Treasury, it did not support immunity because the State was not “functionally liable” since the funds would come from a separate PHEAA account – even though those funds were commingled and could only be withdrawn with Treasurer approval.  State-created entities will often have difficulty satisfying this, the most important arm-of-the-state factor in the Fourth Circuit and any others that choose to take its narrow view. Likewise, the court applied the second factor, the State-created entity’s degree of autonomy, unfavorably for such entities’ immunity. It held that PHEAA was sufficiently autonomous to be liable, even though it was subject to significant State control: for example, its decisions were largely subject to veto and it could only enter into contracts and enact regulations with the State’s approval. While the arm-of-the-state immunity will remain a fact dependent inquiry after Oberg, many State-created entities will be unable to prove immunity in the Fourth Circuit and other jurisdictions that choose to follow this decision. Article


RJO Wins Bid Preparation Costs for Three Clients

The Court of Federal Claims has ruled that three RJO clients – Assisted Housing Services Corp., North Tampa Housing Development Corp., and California Affordable Housing Initiatives, Inc. – are entitled to recover the costs of preparing responses to a 2012 HUD solicitation.

In the underlying bid protest RJO contended that the NOFA improperly solicited anti-competitive grant-type agreements for services, where procurement contracts were appropriate. Despite the pending protest, HUD required prospective contractors to submit bids. RJO’s protest was sustained in the Government Accountability Office.  HUD ignored GAO’s recommendation, forcing RJO to re-litigate the protest in court. In 2014, the Federal Circuit agreed that HUD should have sought procurement contracts for the work, and the Supreme Court denied HUD’s request to hear the case.

On the case’s return to the trial court to determine remedies, HUD argued that the protesters were not entitled to recover their bid preparation costs, because the protesters’ 2012 proposals could be modified and used in response to a future solicitation for the work. In rejecting HUD’s position, the court adopted RJO’s view that its clients’ proposal efforts were wasted due to the staleness of the 2012 submissions, and due to the significant differences between the NOFA and a future solicitation for procurement contracts.

RJO attorneys Neil O'Donnell and Dennis Callahan represent the vindicated protesters.


Merri Baldwin Appointed Chair of COPRAC for 2015-2016

Merri A. Baldwin has been appointed Chair of the California State Bar Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct (COPRAC) for 2015-2016. The committee is a standing committee of the California Bar, with members appointed by the Board of Trustees. COPRAC issues ethics opinions to provide guidance for California lawyers and judges, advises the Board of Trustees on substantive issues including proposals to amend the professional rules, and participates in outreach efforts to educate California lawyers concerning their professional and ethical responsibilities. Ms. Baldwin is co-chair of the firm’s Attorney Liability and Conduct practice group, and her practices focuses on litigation and counseling concerning attorney conduct, malpractice, ethics and related matters.


Alan Wilhelmy Appointed to California State Bar ADR Committee

Alan Wilhelmy has been appointed to serve a three year term on the State Bar of California Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee. Mr. Wilhelmy has served as an arbitrator for twenty years on panels including the AAA Construction Industry and Large and Complex Case Panels, the International Chamber of Commerce Panel and the California Public Works Contract Arbitration Panel. The ADR Committee makes recommendations to the Bar to improve mediation and arbitration in California.


Robert Metzger Interviewed on New Federal Cyber Requirements

On September 15, 2015, Federal News Radio broadcast an interview of RJO shareholder Bob Metzger on new federal cyber requirements that now are being imposed on contractors to DoD and the civilian agencies. In the radio interview, conducted by Rogers Waldron of The Coalition for Government Procurement, Bob seeks to make sense of the many strands of new federal initiatives - the pending OMB Cyber Acquisition Guidance, NARA's proposed rule on Controlled Unclassified Information, the new NIST SP 800-171 that applies to non-federal information systems, and the just-released Interim DFARS with new cyber rules for four types of "controlled defense information." 45-minute interview


RJO Welcomes Joshua M. Deitz

Rogers Joseph O’Donnell is pleased to announce that Joshua M. Deitz has joined the firm as an associate. Josh joins our Government Contracts Group. He graduated with distinction from U.C. Hastings College of Law. At Hastings, he excelled in moot court and also served as both a Teaching Assistant and Writing Assistant, and, since receiving his JD, Josh has worked at Hastings as a Legal Writing and Research Professor. Josh has litigation experience in both state and federal courts and has worked with a variety of clients, including companies in the technology, energy and utilities, and investment industries. He has also had significant roles in several pro bono cases.


RJO Attorneys Appointed to New Leadership Positions in the Public Contract Law Section and Other Sections; Aaron Silberman and Oliya Zamaray Honored for Their Work

Aaron Silberman has been elevated to Vice Chair of the Public Contract Law Section. He completed his term as Secretary and will ultimately serve as Chair in 2017-18. Oliya Zamaray has been appointed as the Section’s first-ever Executive Office Chair Mentee. Both received Chair Special Recognition Awards, Mr. Silberman for his role in planning and directing the Section’s 50th Anniversary Celebration and Ms. Zamaray for her efforts to integrate young lawyers into the Section.

Patricia Meagher, former Chair of the Section, will serve as an honorary member of the Section Council and as Fellow. She also will continue to serve as Section Liaison to the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession and just co-chaired the Section’s 50th Anniversary Education Program at the 2015 Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL. Mr. Silberman will continue to serve as Co-Chair of the Section’s Publications Board.

Jeffery Chiow was reappointed as a Vice Chair of the Cybersecurity, Privacy & Data Protection Committee, which received the Section’s 2014-2015 Committee of the Year Award. Mr. Chiow was also appointed as Co-Chair of the Section’s Battlespace & Contingency Procurements Committee and reappointed as a Vice Chair of the Section’s Acquisition Reform & Emerging Issues Committee and its Counterfeit Parts Task Force. Robert Metzger will continue to serve as Vice Chair of the Section’s State & Local Model Procurement Code Committee and on its Counterfeit Parts Task Force. Ms. Zamaray just completed her term as the Co-Chair of the Section’s Young Lawyers Committee, was reappointed Vice Chair of the Contract Claims & Disputes Resolution Committee, and was appointed Vice Chair of the Cybersecurity, Privacy and Data Protection Committee. Dennis Callahan will continue as a Vice Chair of the Section’s Bid Protest Committee.

In the ABA Section of Litigation, Merri Baldwin, will continue as Co-Chair of the Attorney Liability Subcommittee of the Section’s Professional Liability Litigation Committee. In the ABA Section of International Law, Mr. Metzger was reappointed to continue as a Vice Chair of its India and Aerospace & Defense Industries Committees and as a member of the Steering Group of its International Procurement Committee.


RJO Attorneys Ranked in Who’sWhoLegal

Who’sWhoLegal, published by Law Business Research Ltd, in the UK, has just published its first ratings of Government Contracts firms and practitioners, worldwide. Rogers Joseph O'Donnell is named as one of 27 listed U.S. firms. Neil O'Donnell, RJO’s founder, and Robert Metzger, head of RJO’s D.C. office, were among 48 U.S. lawyers cited as "Experts" in the Government Contracts field. (Who'sWhoLegal)


Robert Metzger Quoted on Newly Issued DCMA Instruction

RJO shareholder Robert Metzger, was quoted at length in the Federal Contracts Report for July 28, 2015, on a newly issued DCMA Instruction for oversight of contractor efforts to detect and avoid counterfeit parts. Bob commented that the Instruction is a “positive step,” overall, considering the serious threat of counterfeits to the defense supply chain. Bob, who is recognized as a national expert in supply chain and cyber risk management, has many publications and presentations to his credit in this area, available on our website. New FCR Article.


Aaron Silberman Quoted on Important New Fifth Circuit Decision on Federal False Claims Act

RJO government contracts attorney Aaron Silberman, was quoted in the Federal Contracts Report (FCR) for July 14, 2015 (104 FCR 773), reporting on a significant federal False Claims Act (FCA) decision in an article titled “Fifth Circuit Affirms Flood Insurance Fraud Verdict, Allows Additional Discovery." In the article, Mr. Silberman comments on the significance of United States ex rel. Rigsby v. State Farm Fire and Cas. Co. (2015 BL 223044, 5th Cir., No. 14-60160, 7/13/15) on the consequences of a whistleblower relator’s failure to follow the FCA’s seal requirement and the scope of discovery a relator will be allowed to take in FCA cases. With regard to the relators’ violation of the FCA seal requirement, which the court held did not require dismissal of their FCA claims, Mr. Silberman noted there was “no indication in the opinion whether the government took a position on this issue. This is unfortunate since the seal provisions exist for the government’s benefit and protection.” Mr. Silberman disagreed with the court’s holding that the relators were entitled to additional limited discovery concerning further alleged misconduct: “By focusing on whether there was broader scheme evidence, without asking whether that evidence, when combined with the amended complaint, allege all the required elements of additional FCA violations, the Circuit Court’s decision has given the relators license to conduct the sort of fishing expedition that Rule 9(b) and the discovery rules were designed to prevent.” (Article)


Seven RJO Attorneys Named "Super Lawyers" in Northern California for 2015

Rogers Joseph O'Donnell is proud to announce that seven of its attorneys have been included among Super Lawyers magazine's top attorneys for 2015 in Northern California. Merri Baldwin, Robert Goodman, John Heller, Roland Nikles, Neil O'Donnell, Aaron Silberman, and Paul Zieff were named to the 2015 Super Lawyers' list for the Northern California Region. Ms. Baldwin and Mr. Heller were each recognized for their work in both Business Litigation and Professional Liability: Defense. Mr. Goodman was honored as a top Environmental Litigation lawyer. Mr. Nikles, Mr. O’Donnell and Mr. Silberman were again recognized as top lawyers in both Government Contracts and Construction Litigation. Finally, Mr. Zieff was recognized for his work in Business Litigation. Super Lawyers names top lawyers in Northern California, 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.


RJO Ranked Among the Top Six Firms in The Legal 500

For 27 years, The Legal 500 has been the source of analysis of law firms worldwide.  Nine years ago, The Legal 500 began to rate U.S. law firms in selective practice areas. The 2015 U.S. edition of The Legal 500 for the first time ranks the Government Contracts practice of U.S. firms. 

Rogers Joseph O'Donnell was ranked in Tier 2, among the top six of the eighteen U.S. firms selected for recognition. RJO was the only boutique among the ranked firms.

The Legal 500 highlights “practice area teams who are providing the most cutting edge and innovative advice to corporate counsel.” We are proud that our dedicated team, from our San Francisco and Washington offices, earned this special recognition.


Government Contracts Group and Attorneys Recognized Again by Chambers and Partners USA

For the eleventh consecutive year, Chambers and Partners USA has recognized Rogers Joseph O'Donnell as one of the premier government contracts law firms in the United States. RJO is proud once again to be the only boutique-sized firm to be ranked among the country's nine best government contracts firms. Chambers’ ratings, released on May 19, rate our government contracts practice in "Band 2" and recognizes six individual RJO attorneys.

Chambers describes our firm as a “[h]ighly regarded boutique firm, operating a strong and successful bid protests group” and handling “matters in a broad range of areas including construction, IT and infrastructure.” It quotes sources (mainly clients) describing our attorneys as "very knowledgeable about the subjects they advise on,” “easy to deal with,” and as providing “value in terms of billing” and “work product” that is “outstanding," and describing RJO as "a firm that understands the nuances of state government politics and policies."

Chambers ranks founding shareholder Neil O'Donnell as one of only nine top (“Band 1”) government contracts attorneys in the nation. Chambers describes Mr. O'Donnell as “a leading light in the field of government contracts,” regarded by clients as “a terrific lawyer”, and who “enjoys a fine reputation for his termination and bid protests work and is noted for his wide-ranging sector expertise, including the healthcare and construction arenas.” Bob Metzger, who heads our Washington office, and Patricia Meagher are also ranked as top government contracts attorneys in Bands 3 and 4, respectively. Chambers describes Bob’s government contracts practice as “highly respected,” quotes sources as praising him as “wonderful and brilliant" and for his "pragmatic, business-focused advice," and states that he is “recognized for his abilities in handling cutting-edge issues in areas such as counterfeit goods and cybersecurity” and “operates a strong bid protests practice.” Patricia is regarded by sources as "a very good lawyer and well known for claims and dispute work and terminations," and Chambers adds that she regularly handles high-profile and high-stakes matters in these areas. Shareholder Aaron Silberman is also cited as "Other Noted Practitioner." Chambers recognizes Jeff Chiow as an "Associate to Watch," describing him as “highly regarded,” having “handled a number of high-profile matters,” and described by clients as "articulate, personable” and someone who “knows the area."

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.


RJO’s Civil Rights Settlement Ranked Top in California for 2014

RJO’s victory in a First Amendment lawsuit was the top-ranked civil rights settlement in California in 2014, according to a survey by VerdictSearch and The Recorder. Shareholder John Heller and Associates Suhani Kamdar and Katherine Pohl secured the settlement in an Establishment Clause claim. Hazle v. Crofoot, 727 F. 3d 983 (9th Cir. 2013).


Sharon Ongerth Rossi Appointed Chair of the NCHRA Contra Costa County Regional Board

Sharon Ongerth Rossi has been appointed Regional Chair of the Northern California Human Resources Association. NCHRA has been advancing organizations through human resources since 1960 and dedicated to connecting human resources professionals with practice resources, leading California-specific training, legal and legislative developments, and forming career-long networks and partnerships. As Regional Chair, Sharon will act as the lead liaison for the region and will facilitate the
bi-monthly regional meetings.


RJO Welcomes Two New Attorneys

Rogers Joseph O’Donnell is pleased to announce that Alecia E. Cotton and Nicholas T. Niiro have joined the firm as associates.

Alecia joins our Retail Industry Trade Regulation Group and our Environmental Law Group. Alecia is a 2007 graduate of Loyola University College of Law, New Orleans. Immediately prior to joining RJO, Alecia was a senior litigation associate at McKenna Long and Aldridge where she gained extensive litigation and trial experience representing the business community in complex commercial civil litigation and consumer products litigation. Alecia also regularly counsels large and small companies on issues involving regulatory compliance, business practices and environmental matters.

Nick joins our Environmental Law Group and our Retail Industry Trade Regulation Group. Nick is a 2011 graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center and received a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from UCLA. Prior to joining RJO, Nick was an associate at a boutique environmental law firm, where he represented clients in administrative proceedings involving hydropower and water rights before the California State Water Resources Control Board, California Public Utilities Commission, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He has also worked as a jury consultant, specializing in advising clients on environmental and toxic tort litigation.

We are delighted to add their talents to the RJO team.


RJO Helps Construction Client Overcome Challenge to BART Award

RJO client Manson Construction, a marine construction company, was the low bidder on the BART Marine Barrier Project at Ferry Plaza. BART’s Office of Civil Rights challenged Manson’s good faith efforts to obtain disadvantaged business participation in the project and recommended that Manson’s bid be rejected.

Alan Wilhelmy worked with Manson’s DBE outreach team, prepared a hearing brief, prepared witnesses for the hearing and attended a half-day hearing before the BART hearing officer.

The hearing officer concluded that Manson did in fact undertake the necessary good faith efforts to obtain DBE participation. Based upon the decision, BART awarded the $50 million contract to Manson.


RJO Attorneys Named to Law360 Editorial Boards

Bob Metzger and associate Jeff Chiow were both selected to serve as editorial advisors by Law360, a legal new service operated by LexisNexis. “The purpose of the editorial advisory board is to get feedback on Law360’s coverage and to gain insight from experts in the field on how best to shape future coverage.” Bob Metzger, who heads RJO’s Washington, DC office was selected to advise on Law360’s Aerospace & Defense coverage. Jeff Chiow will cover Government Contracts content.


RJO’s Year-in-Review Analysis of GSA Schedule
Contracting Issues

In case you missed it, the February 27, 2015 Friday Flash newsletter by The Coalition for Government Procurement featured an article co-authored by shareholder Robert Metzger and associate Oliya Zamaray. In their article, "GSA Multiple Award Schedule Contracting: Lessons From 2014," the authors focused on GSA enforcement results from 2014, identified trends, and offered advice to companies on how to conduct self-assessments that will reduce your risk of non-compliance. The article had been previously published in Law360, where Mr. Metzger and Ms. Zamaray offer their year in review analysis of GSA’s schedule program.


Northern District of California Judges Thank RJO for Pro Bono Work

On February 17, 2015, RJO was among the law firms and lawyers recognized by the judges of the federal district court for the Northern District of California for their participation in the court’s Federal Pro Bono Project. RJO shareholder Aaron Silberman has participated in the program since 2004. Last year, he and Lauren Kramer volunteered to serve as pro bono special mediation counsel for two in pro per plaintiffs in a predatory lending case.


RJO Attorneys Certified As Specialists

Shareholders Merri Baldwin and John Heller have been certified as Specialists in Legal Malpractice Law by the California Board of Legal Specialization. Baldwin and Heller co-chair the firm’s Attorney Liability and Conduct practice group, handling matters involving legal malpractice, State bar discipline, motions to disqualify, sanctions, and ethics advice.


Aaron Silberman Quoted on Important New Fourth Circuit Decision on Federal False Claims Act

RJO government contracts attorney Aaron Silberman, was quoted in the Federal Contracts Report (FCR) for February 10, 2015 (103 FCR 133), reporting on a significant federal False Claims Act (FCA) decision in an article titled “Fourth Circuit: Information Must Reach Public Domain to Trigger Disclosure Bar." In the article, Mr. Silberman comments on the significance of United States ex rel. Wilson v. Graham Cnty. Soil & Water Conservation Dist. (2015 BL 26339, 4th Cir., No. 13-2345, 2/3/15) on the FCA’s public disclosure bar in 31 U.S.C. § 3730(e)(4)(A). The Wilson decision continues an unfortunate trend among some federal courts unduly restricting the public disclosure defense to qui tam lawsuits and thereby expanding the FCA liability of federal government contractors. The court considered two disclosures – 1) an audit report created by an independent accounting firm, distributed to federal, state and local authorities, and publicly available for inspection, and 2) a federal agency report created by the USDA, distributed to federal and state authorities, and also publicly available. The court found no fault with the district court's factual findings that the disclosures contained facts underling the relator's fraud claims and were relied upon by the relator and that the relator was not an original source. It nevertheless reversed the trial court's dismissal of the relator's claims, basing its reversal on a mechanical reading the terms "public" and "disclosure" without regard to the clear purpose of the defense – to prevent parasitic whistleblower suits based on information available to the government and the public. Allowing parasitic lawsuits like this one stretches the language of the FCA, does not serve its intent, and does nothing to assist the Government in detecting and fighting fraud. (Article)


Robert Metzger Quoted on President Obama's Visit to India

Bob Metzger, an RJO shareholder who heads the firm’s D.C. office, is among experts quoted in an article in India’s Open magazine that examines the implications and prospects of President Obama's historic visit to India. (Article)


Victory in $2.5B Multi-Award Navy Bid Protest

RJO attorneys scored a significant victory on behalf of their client challenging the outcome of the procurement for a $2.5B multiple-award Navy contract. The U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Center (SPAWAR) had issued awards to five companies to produce build-to-print network systems to be installed on Navy ships under the Consolidated Afloat Networks & Enterprise Services (CANES) program. RJO attorneys Neil O'Donnell, Jeff Chiow, Lauren Kramer and Lucas Hanback established that the Navy’s CANES procurement was flawed. They argued, among other things, that the Navy had changed its mind about the number of units it was likely to buy, but then never revised its pricing analysis to account for the changed approach. GAO agreed. Because the Navy’s procurement intentions had changed, GAO recommended that the Agency revise its solicitation accordingly and accept revised pricing. Another disappointed offeror also protested the procurement but its protest was denied. The decision is available at


Merri A. Baldwin Will Serve as Treasurer for the Bar Association of San Francisco for 2015

Merri A. Baldwin will serve as the treasurer for the Bar Association of San Francisco for 2015.  BASF is nationally-recognized for its extensive pro bono work and efforts to promote diversity in the profession.


Aaron Silberman Quoted on Ninth Circuit Decision re Public Disclosure Defense Under Federal False Claims Act

RJO government contracts attorney Aaron P. Silberman was quoted extensively in the Federal Contracts Report (FCR) for November 4, 2014 (102 FCR 533), reporting on a significant federal False Claims Act (FCA) decision in an article titled “Ninth Circuit Affirms Deposition Constituted Public Disclosure Under FCA" (PDF). In the article, Mr. Silberman comments on the significance of Malhotra v. Steinberg (2014 BL 305219, 9th Cir., No. 13-35165, 10/29/14) on the FCA’s public disclosure bar in 31 U.S.C. § 3730(e)(4)(A). The decision evaluates when a disclosure is “public.” The Ninth Circuit previously held in Seal 1 v. Seal A, 255 F.3d 1154 (9th Cir. 2001), that a disclosure is “public” as to a particular individual, and so will bar that individual from suing as a relator, if (a) the disclosure was made to that individual in a qualifying government proceeding and (b) that individual was an “outsider” to that proceeding. In such circumstances, the disclosure need not be made to the public at large. The Malhotras case is important because it applies the ruling in Seal 1 to relators who were significantly involved in the proceeding in which the disclosure was made. In other words, it interprets the term "outsider" extremely broadly. While the facts of Malhotras are unusual, the decision makes clear that, at least in the Ninth Circuit, a disclosure in virtually any government investigation to any individual other than a government employee is likely to qualify as a "public" disclosure under the FCA and bar a qui tam action if the other elements of the public disclosure bar are met and the relator is not an original source. (Article)


RJO Attorneys Contribute to New ABA Guide on State False Claims Acts

RJO attorneys authored three chapters in State False Claims Acts: A Practitioner’s Guide to the False Claims Acts of the Various States, a book just released by the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Public Contract Law. Aaron P. Silberman and Dennis J. Callahan co-authored the chapters on the federal, California and Nevada False Claims Acts. The Guide provides a reference tool for comparing violations, defenses and procedures among these complicated statutes for combatting fraud against federal, state and local governments. For further information, visit the ABA Webstore.


Merri Baldwin Appointed Vice-Chair of California State Bar Standing Committee on Professional Liability and Conduct for 2014-15

RJO shareholder Merri A. Baldwin has been appointed as the Vice-Chair of the State Bar of California’s Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct. She will serve in that role for the 2014-2015 term, and will serve as chair for the following term.


RJO Gets $1M+ Claim Dismissed

RJO attorneys John Heller and Lauren Kramer filed a successful motion to dismiss a $1M+ contract claim on behalf of a new RJO client. Ms. Kramer argued the motion before the Northern District of California, which issued an opinion dismissing the claim for lack of personal jurisdiction in California. The written opinion adopted much of the reasoning advanced by RJO in its briefs and at oral argument.


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Recent Publications

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)

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

View From RJO: A Standards-Based Way To Avoid Counterfeit Electronic Parts, Bloomberg BNA Federal Contracts Report, 102 FCR 540, Nov. 4, 2014, by R. Metzger (PDF)

How FATCA Will Affect Brokers Dealing with Foreign Insurers and Agents, California Broker, Life Insurance, Oct. 2014, by D. Paik (PDF)

State False Claims Acts: A Practitioner's Guide to the False Claims Acts of the Various States, ABA Publishing, 2014, by A. Silberman and D. Callahan, contributing authors ABA Webstore

Termination for Convenience of the Government: Key Issues for Contractor Recovery, Briefing Papers, Thomson Reuters, Sept. 2014, by P. Meagher and O. Zamaray, contributing authors (PDF)

New Rule Addresses Supply Chain Assurance, National Defense, NDIA's Business and Technology Magazine, in which Bob Metzger has contributed a column in the "Ethics Corner" of the October 2014 issue (PDF)

View From RJO: Risk-Based Acquisition Strategies to Avoid Failed IT Projects, Bloomberg BNA Federal Contracts Report, 102 FCR, Sept. 23, 2014, by R. Metzger and M Linderman (PDF)

Indiana V. IBM: What's At Stake For IT Contractors, Law360, Sept. 15, 2014, by R. Metzger and M. Linderman (PDF)

State and Local: How Public Agencies May (or May Not) Terminate Contracts, The Procurement Lawyer, Vol. 49, No. 4, Summer 2014, by A. Silberman (PDF)

Supply Chain Security: Initiatives to Defend Against the Threats of Counterfeit Parts, IPC APEX Expo 2014, March 26, 2014, by R. Metzger, Video interview featuring Mark Northrup of IEC Electronics

Construction Subcontracting: A Comprehensive Practical and Legal Guide, ABA Publishing, 2014, by A. Silberman, lead editor and co-author; M. Linderman, R. Osier, co-authors; T. Arbuthnot, W. Chen, S Tyrell, contributors (ABA Webstore)

An Ounce of Prevention: Managing Disqualification Risks through Advance Conflict Waivers, IP Litigator, March/April 2014, by M. Baldwin (PDF)

Hoping for Summary Judgment on California False Claims? Au Contreras, AGC California Legal Brief, Mar. 2014, by A. Silberman and D. Callahan (PDF)

Convergence of Counterfeit and Cyber Threats: Understanding New Rules on Supply Chain Risk, Bloomberg BNA Federal Contracts Report, 101 FCR, Feb. 18, 2014, by R. Metzger (PDF)

Privacy vs. Security -- A zero sum game? Jan. 2014, by J. Chiow (PDF)

Challenges Facing Civil Aviation in India, Indian Defence Review, Vol. 28:4, Oct.-Dec. 2013, by R. Metzger

GSA Multiple Award Schedule Contracting: Lessons From 2013, Law360, Dec. 18, 2013, by R. Metzger, J. Chiow and O. Zamaray (PDF)

Lawyers Representing Startups: Managing Ethical Obligations and Risks, California Bar Journal,
Dec., 2013, by M. Baldwin

New DOD Cybersecurity Program Expected To Significantly Affect IT Contractors, Bloomberg BNA Federal Contracts Report, 100 FCR 472, in which Bob Metzger is quoted on supply chain rules, Nov. 19, 2013 (PDF)

Advanced regional turboprop aircraft: Solutions to India's aviation infrastructure restraints, The Economic Times, Nov. 10, 2013, by R. Metzger

The Many Challenges Facing Civil Aviation in India, India Law News, ABA Section of International Law, Vol. 4, Issue 3, Fall 2013 (PDF) by R. Metzger

The Risks of Hiding Accounts and Assets in Korea Are Going Up (in 5 parts), Korea Daily, Sept. 23-27, 2013 (in Original Korean: (PDF); (in English Translation: (PDF) by D. Paik

Offsets Loom Large As Defense Firms Sell More Abroad, Law 360, Sept. 30, 2013 (PDF) by R. Metzger

"Do defence PSU's make better joint venture partners for foreign companies?" Feature article, The Economic Times (India), in which Bob Metzger quoted extensively on challenges in forming successful joint ventures with state-owned and private sector companies in India, July 7, 2013

DoD's public meeting - discussion of the proposed DFAR rule on detection and avoidance of counterfeit electronic parts. Robert Metzger's prepared statement is posted on the DoD Defense Procurement Acquisition Policy web site, June 28, 2013

"New DOD Counterfeit Prevention Policy: Resolves Responsibilities Within DOD But Leaves Many Contractor Questions Unresolved," Federal Contracts Report, a publication of Bloomberg BNA, May 15, 2013 (PDF) by R. Metzger

"India's Defense Procurement: Responses to the New Scandal, India and the United States: The Evolving Legal Landscape," April 27, 2013 (PDF) by R. Metzger

"The Importance of Competitive Negotiations to State Information Technology Procurement," The Procurement Lawyer, Section of Public Contract Law, ABA, Vol. 48, No. 3 - Spring 2013 (PDF) by R. Metzger and L. Kramer

"Discoverability of Witness Interviews: To What Extent Do the Work Product Doctrine and/or the Attorney-Client Privilege Apply," California Bar Journal, State Bar of California, February 2013, by M. Baldwin