SBA Denies Aldevra's Size Protest Appeal Against Government Sales, LLC

Whitcomb Selinsky, PC

Whitcomb Selinsky, PC

Aldevra, LLC filed two appeals challenging the size determination of Government Sales, LLC (GSL). The Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Hearings and Appeals consolidated these two appeals into one proceeding. Aldevra contends that GSL is affiliated with TriMark USA, LLC, which would disqualify GSL as a small business. They cite a False Claims Act suit and a Department of Justice (DOJ) fraud investigation as evidence of this affiliation.

Affiliation Allegations: Aldevra's Assertion of Shared Ties

Aldevra argued that GSL and TriMark might have been affiliated through various means, such as identity of interest, common ownership or management, and the totality of the circumstances. However, GSL denied any affiliation with TriMark. They claimed that Aldevra's allegations were based on outdated information and that any affiliation with TriMark had ended after a corporate restructuring in 2018. GSL insisted that TriMark had no control over them, and the two companies did not share any employees or managers. According to GSL, they had no significant business ties to TriMark.

The Area Office conducted an investigation and determined that GSL was indeed a small business and that there was no affiliation between GSL and TriMark. However, Aldevra argued that the Area Office had failed to adequately explore or investigate how GSL and TriMark had become disaffiliated. They presented eight specific examples from the Settlement Agreement to support their argument.

Aldevra contended that the Area Office should have found GSL and TriMark affiliated. They claimed that the two firms shared personnel and that TriMark exerted significant influence and control over GSL. They also argued that the Area Office should have conducted further investigation to ensure the fraud had ceased before the proposal deadline. 

In response, GSL argued that Aldevra's allegations were baseless and unsupported. They believed that Aldevra's appeal lacked a clear error of fact or law. GSL maintained that the Area Office had correctly concluded that there was no affiliation between GSL and TriMark. Aldevra moved to supplement the record with additional evidence. However, GSL opposed the motion, contending that the evidence was available at the time of the protest.

The SBA's Verdict: Denial of Motions, New Evidence, and a Final Decision on Size Determination

In a separate appeal, Aldevra asserted that the Area Office erred by incorrectly applying a size standard of 1,250 employees. They also argued that GSL was not a small business due to its affiliation with TriMark. Aldevra claimed that Mr. Robinson, the principal for GSL, previously worked for TriMark and was still beholden to them. They further argued that GSL and TriMark shared personnel and managers. In response, GSL argued that Aldevra's allegations were speculative and unsupported. They denied relying on personnel provided by TriMark and reasserted that the Area Office correctly found no affiliation between GSL and TriMark.

Both parties sought to introduce new evidence. GSL argued that the evidence demonstrated that employees did not work concurrently for GSL and TriMark. On the other hand, Aldevra maintained that the evidence contradicted the Area Office's finding by showing that Ms. Leon was a manager at GSL. However, GSL opposed Aldevra's motion, stating that the evidence was not relevant.

Aldevra contested the size determination of GSL, claiming that the SBA Area Office did not adequately investigate the alleged connections between GSL and TriMark. They argued that GSL and TriMark may have been affiliated based on factors like common ownership and management, previous relationships and/or contractual arrangements, identity of interest, and the totality of the circumstances.

However, the SBA denied the motions to supplement the record, admit new evidence, and request an oral hearing. The SBA found no merit to Aldevra's contentions and concluded that Aldevra had not demonstrated a clear error in the size determinations. As a result, the appeals were denied.

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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