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State will appeal IBM ruling

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The state is going to appeal Wednesday’s decision in Marion Superior Court that it pay IBM $52 million for ending early its billion-dollar contract with the company to update the state’s welfare system.

Marion Superior Judge David Dreyer ordered the state pay IBM $12 million in early termination closeout payments and for equipment it retained after canceling the contract in October 2009. The judge ruled in January that the state owed IBM $40 million in subcontractor assignment fees for terminating the contract.

IBM and the state filed lawsuits against the other over the cancellation of the 10-year contract the state entered into with IBM to update Indiana’s welfare system. The $1.3 billion contract was signed in December 2006, but the state terminated it in October 2009, dissatisfied with IBM’s results.

The state sought more than $437 million from IBM, but Dreyer ruled earlier this year the most the state could recover is $125 million in damages. IBM wanted the state to pay it $100 million for terminating the contract early.

“The largely undisputed evidence shows that the Governor, the Family and Social Services Administration and various State of Indiana officials set out to fix Indiana’s poorly-performing welfare system by inserting an untested theoretical experiment, and substitute personal caseworkers with computers and phone calls,” the order says. “This is now admitted to be an error, and there is nothing in this case, or the Court’s power, that can be done to correct it, or remedy the lost taxpayer money or personal suffering of needy Hoosiers. All that can be done in this case is to take the first step at setting the final numbers among so many millions already spent.”

In a statement released by the governor’s office, the state focused on the improvements to Indiana’s welfare system performed by another vendor, which Gov. Mitch Daniels described as being the state’s most timely, accurate, cost-effective and fraud-free system ever.

Adam Horst, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said even if the ruling stands, it will not impact the state surplus. The state sets aside money for lawsuits.

The state’s attorneys, John Maley and Peter Rusthoven of Barnes & Thornburg LLP, released a statement saying, “Fortunately, the court’s ruling, while mistaken on some issues, has now rejected the great majority of IBM’s claims for additional money. This was another step in the right direction; and we are confident Indiana’s appellate courts will now set aside most if not all of the IBM claims that still remain.”

Wednesday’s ruling awards IBM $52,081,416, plus prejudgment interest and costs. The company is not entitled to damages for deferred fees or mandatory changes. The state got nothing out of its complaint.

 

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