A July 23, 2010 decision by the District Court for the Southern District of California in the case of JCI Metal Products v. U.S. Dept. of the Navy, 2010 WL 2925436, affirmed the release of unit pricing on a prior 5 year contract that expired in 2007. This reverse-FOIA action was brought by JCI in an attempt to protect its former contract unit pricing from release to its competitors.

The Court cited several 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decisions favoring release under FOIA. The Court also noted that the Plaintiff had failed to keep the pricing information confidential during the case – a letter to the Contracting Officer including seventeen of the prices was posted by Plaintiff on the Court’s electronic filing system which is publicly available. These prices have been in the public domain and were not subsequently sealed or otherwise made unavailable to the public, so Plaintiff cannot now claim that they are confidential.

The unit prices were out of date, and there were too many fluctuating variables for competitors to gain any advantage by the release. The Court found the Navy’s determination that the prices were not protected by FOIA Exemption 4 or the Trade Secrets Act was not arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.

For questions about FOIA and protecting your confidential government contracts information, contact Karen S. Hindson.