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LEBOEUF, LAMB, GREENE & MACRAE, LLP. v. ABRAHAM

September 17, 2001

LEBOEUF, LAMB, GREENE & MACRAE, LLP, PLAINTIFF,
V.
SPENCER ABRAHAM, SECRETARY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, DEFENDANT, AND WINSTON & STRAWN, INTERVENOR-DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Urbina, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DENYING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR

A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the court on the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction. In its motion, the law firm of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, L.L.P. ("LeBoeuf" or "the plaintiff"), claims that the U.S. Department of Energy ("DOE" or "the defendant"), is forbidding its contractors from retaining the plaintiff in connection with DOE contracts, thereby subjecting LeBoeuf to "defacto debarment" without notice or an opportunity to be heard. As a result, LeBoeuf seeks an injunction to stop this alleged debarment.

The plaintiff, however, followed improper procedures in pursuing its motion for injunctive relief. Rather than filing a complaint to begin this action, LeBoeuf filed its motion under an already existing civil action that it had initiated against DOE on March 27, 2000. The previous action pertains to a different contract dispute.

Because the plaintiff failed to file a complaint in this action, the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the plaintiff's motion. The court notes that even if LeBoeuf had initiated this action by a complaint accompanying its application for injunctive relief, LeBoeuf would still fail to prevail on its preliminary-injunction claim. Accordingly, the court denies the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual History

The underlying action involves LeBoeufs challenge to DOE's decision to award a contract to the law firm of Winston & Strawn ("Winston"), the intervenor-defendant, rather than to LeBoeuf. DOE's decision stems from a Request for Proposals and Solicitation that DOE issued on May 27, 1999. See First Am.Compl. ¶ 26. This request stated that DOE was seeking "professional legal advice and assistance to DOE's Office of General Counsel, involving legal matters related to the licensing activities of DOE's OCRWM [Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management] for Yucca Mountain," (the "Yucca Mountain contract"). Id. After receiving bids from LeBoeuf, Winston, and others, DOE decided to award the contract to Winston. See id. ¶ 36. DOE explained to LeBoeuf that although LeBoeuf and Winston had equal scores, DOE awarded the contract to Winston because Winston submitted the lowest bid. Id. As a result, on March 27, 2000, LeBoeuf filed a complaint against DOE in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada. The District of Nevada transferred the case to this court on January 3, 2001.

In contrast to the underlying dispute over the Yucca Mountain contract, the present dispute involves a contract for legal services with West Valley Nuclear Services Company ("West Valley"), a different DOE contractor. This dispute originated on June 7, 2001, with Michael McBride, a partner at LeBoeuf. See Second McBride Aff. at 4. Mr. McBride learned that West Valley was interested in retaining LeBoeuf for work related to a DOE radioactive waste cleanup contract. See id. This contract for legal services (the "West Valley contract") required approval by DOE. See id. According to the plaintiff, DOE refused to approve West Valley's retention of LeBoeuf solely because of LeBoeuf's pending lawsuit against DOE. See Pl's Mot. at 1.

The plaintiff bases this conclusion on the following facts: On June 7, 2001, Mr. McBride sent a letter to West Valley's legal counsel setting forth LeBoeuf's qualifications, billing rates, and a summary of LeBoeuf's lawsuit against DOE regarding the Yucca Mountain contract. See Second McBride Aff., Ex. A. A few days later, West Valley informed Mr. McBride that it intended to hire LeBoeuf, subject to a few terms and DOE's approval. See id. On June 13 and 15, 2001, representatives from West Valley told John Lawrence, a senior counsel at LeBoeuf, that DOE was reviewing the possible "issue" posed by LeBoeuf's litigation with DOE. See Lawrence Aff. at 3-4. Later on June 15, 2001, Mr. Lawrence received a call from West Valley's legal counsel who, according to Mr. Lawrence,*fn1 explained that "DOE had reached its final decision regarding [LeBoeuf's] disclosure, and . . . the decision was made by DOE not to authorize West Valley to engage our services." Id. at 4. According to Mr. McBride, LeBoeuf partner, Brian O'Neill, left two messages with DOE's general counsel, but the general counsel did not return the calls. See Second McBride Aff. at 8.

Subsequently, on June 21, 2001, West Valley retained a law firm*fn2 other than the plaintiff for the West Valley contract. See Third McBride Aff. at 2; Order Denying T.R.O., June 22, 2001 (Hogan, C.J., as Motions Judge) ("Order") at 2.

Anticipating future injury, Mr. McBride argues that many of his former clients will also need DOE approval if they wish to retain LeBoeuf in the future. See Third McBride Aff. at 3. Mr. McBride contends that DOE's "decision to retaliate against LeBoeuf for bringing this civil action" will hinder LeBoeuf's transportation-law practice. See Third McBride Aff. at 3. Finally, Mr. McBride also states that DOE's action is harming his reputation and stigmatizing him and LeBoeuf. See id. at 3-4.

B. Procedural History

In the underlying lawsuit, the plaintiff filed a complaint on March 27, 2000, and then a first amended complaint on February 6, 2001. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant acted in an arbitrary, capricious, and illegal manner by awarding the Yucca Mountain contract to the law firm of Winston & Strawn. See First Am.Compl. ΒΆΒΆ 58-84. In the first amended complaint, LeBoeuf explains that Winston's representation of two DOE contractors created ...


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