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District counsels recognized for outstanding performance

Published Nov. 26, 2013
LOS ANGELES – The Chief Counsel of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recognized Elizabeth Moriarty and John Bazan of the Los Angeles District’s Office of Counsel for outstanding performance. Col. Kim Colloton, commander of the LA District, presented the awards during a Nov. 7 ceremony held at District headquarters in Los Angeles.

Moriarty receives Joseph W. Kimbel Award

Elizabeth Moriarty joined the Corps in 2006 through the Chief Counsel's Honors Program. The justification for the award states, “From the very start of her career, Elizabeth has displayed exceptional ability as a lawyer, as well as an aptitude for leading and mentoring fellow attorneys and project delivery teams for a variety of significant civil works programs.”

Moriarty received the Joseph W. Kimbel Award, which recognizes a Corps attorney who has demonstrated the highest potential for future legal achievement in the Corps of Engineers Legal Services Community. The award symbolizes the continuing tradition of extraordinary professionalism and performance exemplified by Kimbel, who served with distinction from 1913 until his retirement in 1956.

Moriarty advises project delivery teams and District leadership on the District's most high profile civil works projects.

She is the District's principal attorney for the Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Study, which is being completed under an expedited schedule, and was a major contributor on the non-motorized boating program for the Los Angeles River, which has garnered very positive attention in national publications. Her work to facilitate correction of design deficiencies of the Santa Maria River levees contributed to the success of the highly visible project to reduce flood risk in a rapidly growing area of California. She also worked with resource agencies on the San Luis Rey River Flood Risk Reduction Project to allow maintenance of levees on a project that had been plagued by delays for several decades.

Moriarty garnered expertise on environmental law through hands-on experience as well as training in all of the major environmental laws the Corps regularly encounters, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation & Liability Act of 1980 (better known as the "SuperFund Act), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Clean Air Act.

The award citation said Moriarty worked hand-in-hand with the Planning Division's Environmental Resources Branch to review and provide advice concerning the adequacy and scope of environmental assessments and environmental impact statements.“She has developed significant expertise on the policies and procedures that the Regulatory Program follows, as well as having expertise on the broader environmental laws that the NEPA analysis required for the issuance of an individual permit always brings into play,” the justification states.

Moriarty also has demonstrated abilities in the area of real estate law by authoring a complex opinion of compensability for the multi-million dollar relocation of the Santa Ana Regional Interceptor sewer line at the Santa Ana River and by revising real estate plans for several important civil works projects.

“Elizabeth is Office of Counsel's go-to attorney for almost all major civil works projects in the Los Angeles District,” the citation stated. “She displays impeccable judgment and people skills in advising district leadership on the most complex and difficult issues.”

Bazan receives E. Manning Seltzer Award

When he joined the Los Angeles District after a two-year deployment in Afghanistan as a major in the Reserves with the U.S. Army JAG Corps, John Bazan inherited a case which the government had recently lost where the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals found that the government caused 218 days of delay and remanded the case for negotiation.

Bazan persuaded the board to sustain the termination for default of the design-build contract to construct a munitions maintenance facility for the F-22 program at Nellis Air Force Base. The decision saved the government $7 million.

For this accomplishment, Bazan received E. Manning Seltzer Award, presented to a Corps attorney who has made special contributions to its legal services mission.

The award is named for E. Manning Seltzer who served more than 40 years on the legal staffs of the Corps of Engineers, Federal Works Agency and the Department of the Army Construction Agency. From 1956 until his retirement in 1977, he was the Chief Counsel of the Corps of Engineers. He was renowned as one of the outstanding lawyers in the Government. His exceptional leadership, executive ability, foresight, judgment and tact placed him among the elite of the legal profession.

“(John’s) success in achieving a favorable decision in the complex termination for default litigation … is a testament to his tenacity and his litigation prowess,” the nomination package states. “By Mr. Bazan’s achievement,, the Government escaped significant damages. Mr. Bazan’s contribution preserved the relationship with the Air Force customer involved.”

The decision established several principles of law applicable to government construction contracts in general and, in particular, government contract law concerning the termination for default clause.

With assistance only from a paralegal, Bazan conducted an eight-day hearing before the board in December 2010 and January 2011, during which he examined every witness, including subject matter experts from the contractor and the government. Afterward, he submitted a post-trial brief that contained 253 proposed findings of fact.  In the May 2013 decision, the government prevailed on nearly every disputed issue of fact. 

Bazan’s representation of the government in the appeal to the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals articulated principles of law that will help the government in the defense of future terminations for default.