Friday, April 8, 2011

Energy Northwest v. U.S.

Apr 7: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, Case No. 2010-5112. Appealed from the United States Court of Federal Claims. The Appeals Court explains that, the government appeals three categories of damages awarded by the United States Court of Federal Claims for the government's breach of its commitment to dispose of Plaintiff's spent nuclear fuel. The contested categories are as follows: First, the trial court awarded Plaintiff the cost of certain site modifications that the government contended were not proved to have been caused by the breach. Second, the court awarded damages to account for certain indirect overhead expenses that accompanied Plaintiff's mitigation activities, though Plaintiff did not offer proof that the mitigation actually caused specific categories of these indirect overhead expenses to increase. Third, the court awarded Plaintiff the cost of interest payments made in connection with Plaintiff's financing of its mitigation activities. Energy Nw. v. United States, 91 Fed. Cl. 531 (2010).
    The Appeals Court ruled, "We hold that the Court of Federal Claims erred by failing to require Plaintiff to prove that its site modifications were actually caused by the government's breach. We hold that the court was correct in its treatment of Plaintiff's indirect overhead expenses. And we hold that, because the government did not waive its sovereign immunity against the recovery of interest, the court erred in awarding Plaintiff recovery of its interest costs. We therefore vacate the Court of Federal Claims' judgment as to the site modifications, affirm as to the indirect overhead expenses, reverse as to the interest recovery, and remand." In its final conclusion the Appeals Court said, "We therefore vacate the Court of Federal Claims' award of damages for the Columbia plant modifications, affirm the award for indirect overhead expenses, reverse the award of interest, and remand for further proceedings."
    Access the complete opinion (click here).

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