State of Indiana v. International Business Machines Corporation - 11/25/13

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Monday  November 25, 2013 
1:30 PM  EST

1:30 p.m. 49A02-1211-PL-875. Indiana Supreme Court courtroom. In December 2006, the State of Indiana, on behalf of its agency the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, entered into a ten-year, $1.3 billion contract with International Business Machines Corporation.  The contract sought to modernize and improve the State’s failing welfare system in part by reducing the need for face-to-face meetings with caseworkers.  However, less than three years into the ten-year contract, the State terminated the contract citing IBM performance issues and transitioned to a hybrid system.  The parties then sued each other for breach of contract in Marion Superior Court.

The trial court granted IBM summary judgment for $40,000,000 in Assignment Fees.  And after a six-week bench trial in 2012 involving 96 witnesses and 7500 exhibits, the court found that the State did not terminate the contract for cause and awarded IBM an additional $9,510,795 for equipment costs, $2,570,621 in other contract claims, and $10,632,333 in prejudgment interest, bringing the total to $62,713,749.  The State now appeals raising four issues, including whether the trial court erred in concluding that it did not terminate the contract for cause, whether the Assignment Fees are an unenforceable penalty, whether it is liable to IBM for the equipment that it kept after termination of the contract, and whether IBM is entitled to prejudgment interest against the State, a sovereign entity.  IBM cross-appeals arguing that it is entitled to an additional $43,416,738 in Deferred Fees and $931,928 in Change Order fees. 

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  1. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  2. If the end result is to simply record the spoke word, then perhaps some day digital recording may eventually be the status quo. However, it is a shallow view to believe the professional court reporter's function is to simply report the spoken word and nothing else. There are many aspects to being a professional court reporter, and many aspects involved in producing a professional and accurate transcript. A properly trained professional steno court reporter has achieved a skill set in a field where the average dropout rate in court reporting schools across the nation is 80% due to the difficulty of mastering the necessary skills. To name just a few "extras" that a court reporter with proper training brings into a courtroom or a deposition suite; an understanding of legal procedure, technology specific to the legal profession, and an understanding of what is being said by the attorneys and litigants (which makes a huge difference in the quality of the transcript). As to contracting, or anti-contracting the argument is simple. The court reporter as governed by our ethical standards is to be the independent, unbiased individual in a deposition or courtroom setting. When one has entered into a contract with any party, insurance carrier, etc., then that reporter is no longer unbiased. I have been a court reporter for over 30 years and I echo Mr. Richardson's remarks that I too am here to serve.

  3. A competitive bid process is ethical and appropriate especially when dealing with government agencies and large corporations, but an ethical line is crossed when court reporters in Pittsburgh start charging exorbitant fees on opposing counsel. This fee shifting isn't just financially biased, it undermines the entire justice system, giving advantages to those that can afford litigation the most. It makes no sense.

  4. "a ttention to detail is an asset for all lawyers." Well played, Indiana Lawyer. Well played.

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