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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. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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