A federal U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge holds that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers waived sovereign immunity and is obligated to pay attorneys’ fees to plaintiffs in a contract case by virtue of a fee-shifting provision the parties had included in a contract. International Industrial Park, Inc. v. United States, No. 09-691C (Dec. 21, 2011). During trial, the attorney who had negotiated the attorneys’ fee provision for the Government had testified that the fee-shifting provision only meant that the plaintiff could “argue you’re entitled to attorneys’ fees and we can argue you’re not, whatever.” But the trial court rejected that open-ended interpretation of the attorneys fee provision, explaining: “The Court will not indulge the Government’s whipsaw here, encouraging Plaintiffs to punt the attorneys’ fee issue until after litigation, only then to urge Plaintiffs’ disqualification for punting.”
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