Oracle, Oregon tussle over whether federal court should hear Cover Oregon case

Oracle and the state of Oregon have filed lawsuits against each other related to the state's failed health insurance exchange website

Oracle and the state of Oregon tussled in a U.S. district court last week over which legal venue will hear their dueling lawsuits related to the vendor's work on the state's failed health insurance exchange website, Cover Oregon.

Oregon filed suit against Oracle in state court and then Oracle filed suit against Oregon in federal court. In the hearing last Friday, U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon Judge Anna Brown rejected Oracle's motion to consolidate the cases into one lawsuit to be tried in federal court, citing procedural issues, according to court documents.

The state case didn't include allegations of copyright infringement, she said. Oracle has since brought up the issue of copyright in the state case, but raised this issue after it requested that the legal proceedings be moved to federal court. The company will refile its motion to consolidate the cases in federal court, according to a report by the The Oregonian newspaper.

Oracle declined to comment and representatives for the state did not answer questions about the hearing.

In August, Oracle sued Oregon in federal court for breach of contract and copyright infringement, seeking more than US$20 million in fees that the state withheld over the vendor's work on Cover Oregon. Only federal courts can hear cases involving copyright disputes. Oracle claimed that "public officials chose not to give a measured, fully informed response" when issues with the site were reported on Oct. 1., 2013, the go-live date. Instead, they decided to "blame someone else," chiefly Oracle.

Later in August, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum sued Oracle in a state district court. In its filing, Oregon claimed that the vendor lied about the capabilities of its software to meet the state's needs "out-of-the-box." Oracle was also accused of breach of contract by "overcharging for poorly trained Oracle personnel to provide incompetent work," not honoring a warranty to repair errors at no charge and hiding project issues from the state.

Fred O'Connor writes about IT careers and health IT for The IDG News Service. Follow Fred on Twitter at @fredjoconnor. Fred's e-mail address is fred_o'connor@idg.com

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