The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHEY
The original complaint in this action was filed on September 22, 1982 by Opal Manufacturing Co., Ltd. ("Opal"), a Canadian firm engaged in manufacturing postage stamp vending machines. Opal alleged that UMC, a United States based manufacturer of specialized equipment, had misappropriated proprietary information that Opal had supplied to UMC in connection with a proposed business arrangement. Opal sought to enjoin UMC from using that information in preparing to enter a bid in response to a USPS solicitation for the purchase of postage stamp vending machines (the "solicitation"). Opal further requested a permanent injunction to prevent UMC from using the alleged illegally obtained information for any other purpose, an accounting of UMC's distribution of the information and return of two machines Opal had delivered to UMC. The complaint did not state a claim against USPS. The USPS was joined as an intervenor-defendant at the Court's suggestion, in order to allow it to protect its interest in the solicitation.
On September 23, 1982 this Court denied Opal's request for a temporary restraining order. The next day the USPS opened bidding under the solicitation. UMC was the lowest bidder and Opal was second in line.
Subsequently, several bid challenges were filed. The USPS is in the process of investigating these challenges and award of the contract is now expected to occur on or about November 24, 1982.
UMC filed its answer to Opal's complaint on October 12, 1982. On that date UMC also filed a counter-claim against Opal and a cross-claim against USPS. The counter-claim seeks damages against Opal for allegedly providing UMC with false information in order to create or maintain a monopoly in stamp vending machines, attempting to disable UMC from bidding on the solicitation by attempting to reveal to it purportedly proprietary information and employing an agent to secure an unfair advantage in the solicitation.
UMC's cross-claim seeks to enjoin USPS from awarding the vending machine contract to any party other than UMC. UMC claims that it is entitled to the contract under USPS regulations because (a) UMC was the low responsive bidder; (b) Opal unlawfully employed an agent in connection with the solicitation; and, (c) the USPS solicitation was improperly formulated.
On October 25, 1982 Opal filed its reply to the UMC counter-claim, moved to amend its complaint (mainly to add a claim for damages) and moved for leave to intervene on behalf of the USPS in UMC's cross-claim. The same day this Court held a status call and granted both of Opal's motions. Further, the Court ordered all parties to prepare memoranda on the question of the jurisdiction of this Court to hear this case in light of the recently passed Federal Courts Improvement Act of 1982. Pub. L. No. 97-164, 96 Stat. 25. All parties filed such memoranda and in addition, USPS filed a Motion to Dismiss the claim filed against it.
The jurisdiction of the new United States Claims Court is set forth at § 133 of the Federal Courts Improvement Act of 1982. Pub. L. No. 97-164, § 133, 96 Stat. 25, 40. The provision applicable to the matter at bar is § 133(a) (3). That section provides:
To afford complete relief on any contract claim brought before the contract is awarded, the court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to grant declaratory judgments and such equitable and extraordinary relief as it deems proper, including but not limited to injunctive relief. In exercising this jurisdiction, the court shall give due regard to the interests of national defense and national security.
Thus, section 133(a) (3) states that the Claims Court has "exclusive jurisdiction" over pre-award contract claims. Defendant argues that this plain language is not consistent with congressional intent as evidenced by the legislative history of the Act. However, "the starting point in every case involving construction of a statute is the language itself." Blue Chip Stamps v. Manor Drug Stores, 421 U.S. 723, 756, 44 L. Ed. 2d 539, 95 S. Ct. 1917 (1975) (Powell, J. concurring). See also Greyhound Corp. v. Mount Hood Stages Inc., 437 U.S. 322, 330, 57 L. Ed. 2d 239, 98 S. Ct. 2370 (1978); Santa Fe Industries Inc., v. Green, 430 U.S. 462, 51 L. Ed. 2d 480, 97 S. Ct. 1292 (1977). And it is a maxim of statutory construction that when the language of a statute is clear a court must enforce it according to its terms. E.g., Yates v. United States, 354 U.S. 298, 1 L. Ed. 2d 1356, 77 S. Ct. 1064 (1957). As the Court of Appeals for this circuit recently stated, legislative history "may not be used as a means for construing a statute contrary to its plain terms." United Mine Workers of America v. Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, 217 U.S. App. D.C. 109, 671 F.2d 615 (D.C. Cir. 1982). Thus, the Federal Courts Improvement Act must be read to vest jurisdiction in the Claims Court for pre-award contract claims, to the exclusion of this Court. To the extent that this case presents such claims, jurisdiction in this Court is lacking.
UMC's cross-claim seeking to enjoin USPS from awarding the postage stamp vending machine contract to anyone other than UMC is clearly just the kind of a claim that § 133(a) (3) of the Federal Courts Improvement Act was designed to cover.
As previously noted, exclusive jurisdiction over such pre-award contract claims is now vested in the United States Claims Court. Accordingly, this Court will dismiss UMC's cross-claim for lack of jurisdiction.
The Court's jurisdiction over ...