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Metric Constructors Inc. v. National Aeronautics and Space Administration

March 03, 1999

METRIC CONSTRUCTORS, INC., APPELLANT,
v.
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION, APPELLEE.



Before Rich, Plager, and Rader, Circuit Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rader, Circuit Judge.

On appeal from: Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) awarded a $56,215,000 contract to Metric Constructors, Inc. (Metric) for construction of the Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On December 10, 1993, NASA issued a contract modification deleting a contract requirement to install new light bulbs before project completion. NASA deducted $132,570 from the contract for the deleted work. When Metric appealed, the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (Board) upheld this deduction. See ASBCA No. 48852 (Nov. 21, 1997). Because the Board erred in construing the contract to require replacement of all lamps before project completion rather than replacement of only burned out, broken, or defective lamps, this court reverses.

I.

NASA awarded the contract to construct the SSPF on February 15, 1991. The SSPF, completed in June 1994, consists of approximately 500,000 square feet and contains offices, computer and communications facilities, clean rooms, bays for processing space station payloads, and a parking lot. Approximately 13,000 light bulbs (referred to as "lamps" in the industry) light these areas. In March 1991, Metric entered into a subcontract with Meisner Electric, Inc. (Meisner) to perform the electrical work described in the specifications of the contract. At issue are three sections of those specifications relating to the installation of lamps.

Section 16511, entitled "Fluorescent Fixtures," required:

"3.1 Installation

"A fixture shall be installed at each outlet indicated on the drawings, and lamps of the proper type and wattage shall be installed in each fixture.

"New lamps shall be installed immediately prior to completion of the project, unless directed by the designated NASA representative."

Section 16517, entitled "High Intensity Discharge Lighting," required:

"3.1 Installation

"A fixture shall be installed at each outlet indicated, and lamps of the proper type, voltage, and wattage shall be installed in each fixture.

"New lamps shall be installed immediately prior to completion of the project, or earlier if ...


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