Software lawsuit returns to court after mediation

A lawsuit filed against the University for breach of contract will return to the courts after the parties failed to reach an agreement in mediation, the plaintiff’s attorney said last week.

In May 2007, Richmar and Associates, a software company, filed a civil lawsuit against GW in federal court, saying the University failed to pay more than $200,000 for a year-long project to scan documents and create a virtual database of school records. The judge ordered the case to mediation, which ended Sept. 19.

In court documents, the University states it did not pay because the code developed by Richmar was problematic and did not meet their original expectations. Richmar said this concern was never communicated to them until the invoices were left unpaid.

A motion for judgment filed by Richmar in late September includes a letter from GW General Council Linda Schutjer to Richard Gordon, president of Richmar, from March 2007. She wrote that the University incurred more than $500,000 in damages due to Richmar’s failings that they would like to recover.

GW has paid Richmar about $1.5 million to develop the code and scan almost a million records, according to court documents.

Schutjer did not return several calls from The Hatchet about the damages. Tracy Schario, a University spokesperson, said the University will not provide details on how the $500,000 was calculated.

“GW has not sustained any damages and they have simply refused to pay because of their own failure to protect their legal rights when they entered into the contract,” said Geoffrey Gitner, attorney for Richmar.

Schutjer’s letter adds that GW seeks the damages, and perhaps more, from the software company.

“(R)est assured that the University will pursue all of its damage claims against Richmar and nothing in this letter should be read as limiting the amount we may eventually determine we are due,” Schutjer wrote.

The University currently uses the code in several departments, including Human Resources. Richmar said in the suit that the University cannot use or alter the code, as it is a violation of copyright.

Gitner said there is still a pending motion to cease and desist GW’s use of the code. The University contends in court documents that it is a legal owner – and perhaps also a co-author – of the code, giving it the right to use and alter it.

If the motion for judgment is not approved by the judge, a trial could begin as early as December, Gitner said.

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