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Government Required to Provide Security Escorts

The terms of a fuel delivery contract required the government to provide security escorts for the recovery of abandoned tanker trucks, according to the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, because the contract language and the parties' actions indicated the word "convoys" included recovery convoys. A truck transportation service contract for delivery of fuel oil to various locations in southern Iraq from loading facilities in Kuwait obligated the government to "provide security escort to convoys." The contractor sought relief for losses incurred as a result of government delays in arranging security escorts to recover its abandoned tanker trucks. The government argued the contract did not apply to "disabled vehicle recovery missions."

No Limitations

However, the provision addressing convoy security did not "place any limitation upon the kinds of convoys for which security was to be provided." To the extent there was any latent ambiguity as to the meaning of "convoys," it was to be construed against the government under the rule of contra proferentum, as the contractor relied on its interpretation during bid preparation. Further, where there is an ambiguity, extrinsic evidence is permissible to determine the parties' intent. Here, the parties' contemporaneous actions during performance were consistent with the contractor's interpretation that the government would provide security escorts for all convoys. In addition, contrary to the government's contention, the contract's Risk of Loss clause addressed only the risk of loss of fuel, not the risk of equipment loss. The board granted summary judgment to the contractor as to the contract interpretation issue. (Altanmia Commercial Marketing Co., ASBCA, 92,529)

(The news featured above is a selection from the news covered in the Government Contracts Report Letter, which is published weekly and distributed to subscribers of the Government Contracts Reporter. )


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