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IBM seeks greater judgment; state claims $62 million award erroneous

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A $62 million judgment against the state for canceling a contract with IBM to overhaul Indiana’s social services administration is clearly erroneous, an attorney for the state argued Monday, while an IBM lawyer argued the company was entitled to even greater damages.

A panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals heard arguments in State of Indiana v. IBM, 49D10-1005-PL-021451. Marion Superior Judge David Dreyer in July 2012 awarded IBM more than $52 million in damages plus about $10 million in prejudgment interest.

Indiana’s Family and Social Services Agency in 2006 signed a 10-year, $1.3 billion contract with IBM under which the company was to upgrade the state’s systems for handling claims and processing for welfare, food stamps and Medicaid. Former Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the contract and terminated it in 2009 after the state paid $437 million.

Barnes & Thornburg LLP partner Peter Rusthoven argued that the contract was canceled for cause because the upgrade was “plagued with problems from the start,” and that the record showed IBM was in material breach.

Rusthoven also told the appeals panel it would have to determine whether the trial court ruling that awarded damages to IBM at the summary judgment stage was “infected from top to bottom with legal errors.”

IBM attorney Jay Lefkowitz of the New York firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP said his client was entitled to sums in addition to those awarded by the trial court, and pushed for damages of about $106.6 million.

The increased amount would include an additional $43 million in deferred fees – a “true-up” or “make-whole payment” reflecting the greater amount of upfront work IBM performed at the outset of the contract.

“During the early part of the contract, IBM was being underpaid,” Lefkowitz said.

Judge John Baker presided over the panel that included Judges Ezra Friedlander and Nancy Vaidik, which heard 90 minutes of oral arguments Monday. The arguments may be viewed online. The court will rule at a later date.

Read more about the oral arguments in State v. IBM in the Dec. 4 Indiana Lawyer

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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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