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Florida Power & Light Co. v. United States

Citation: 30 ELR 20225
No. No. 99-5008, 198 F.3d 1358/(Fed. Cir., 11/30/1999)

The court holds that the doctrine of res judicata does not bar nuclear utilities' claims that they were improperly charged by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for decontamination and decommissioning costs in its contracts for enriched uranium during the time period after the Energy Policy Act enacted a decontamination and decommissioning fund but before DOE's uranium contracts were transferred by law to the U.S. Enrichment Corporation (USEC). The court first holds that the utilities' claims against DOE and their post transfer claims against the USEC are sufficiently discrete that the pre-transfer claims are not barred by res judicata. The Court of Federal Claims could not obtain jurisdiction over the claims presented in this case until the DOE contracting officer issued his final decision. Here, he did not do so until after the utilities filed their complaints against the USEC, and the utilities were not required to supplement their USEC pleadings to include the DOE claims after the DOE contracting officer issued the decision. Further, the two sets of claims involve not only different time periods, but also different agencies with different contracting officers and different statutory mandates regarding pricing policy.

The court next holds that prior case law does not warrant dismissal of the utilities' claim. While previous case law involved questions closely related to the issue presented in this case, it does not provide a conclusive answer to the utilities' contractual claim in this case. On remand, therefore, the court must resolve several legal and factual questions to determine whether DOE breached the pricing provision of the enrichment services contracts by charging for decontamination and decommissioning costs that were defrayed out of the fund in violation of DOE's established pricing policy.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Alexander D. Tomaszczuk
Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge
1676 International Dr., McLean VA 22102
(703) 790-7900

Counsel for Defendant
Theodore R. Carter III
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Before Michel and Clevenger, JJ.