Judgment on buying masks: the federal government is threatened with huge additional payments

Judgment on buying masks: the federal government is threatened with huge additional payments

Status: 01/20/2023 1:11 pm

At the height of the pandemic, the Ministry of Health wanted to quickly acquire many FFP2 masks. The budget for this was quickly depleted – many vendors were left with the costs. A trial now could change that.

Thursday was a happy day for Joachim Lutz. In his opinion, his chances of receiving compensation claims of 1.6 million euros have increased significantly since yesterday. In spring 2020, he delivered respiratory masks to the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG). He has remained sitting on costs to this day.

For over two and a half years, he has been suing the Bonn Regional Court for payment for the masks he handed over. Cologne’s Administrative Court (VG) issued a ruling on Thursday that is likely to cause an uproar in the Ministry of Health. This can have costly consequences.

The judges ruled that BMG must release its files related to the procurement of masks as part of the so-called open house procedure in spring 2020. As of 2020, around 100 mask suppliers are suing the Ministry of Health for payment for their deliveries.

Flooded with offers

At the start of the corona pandemic, when masks were desperately needed everywhere, the Ministry of Health went shopping. She drew up so-called open house contracts. The ministry promised those who manage to deliver at least 25,000 masks by the end of April 2020 to buy them in unlimited quantities – for 4.50 euros per FFP2 mask.

The ministry was flooded with bids and therefore ended the tender prematurely. In a short time, so many suppliers came into contact that the €500 million budget was largely exceeded. BMG was suddenly confronted with promises to deliver masks worth €6.4 billion. Due to alleged defects, the Ministry of Health has refused to pay many mask suppliers to date.

Advocate: Deleted Information Disadvantage

A total of three plaintiffs went to the administrative court in Cologne to gain access to files related to BMG’s spring mask purchases. They wanted to know who in the house of then Minister Jens Spahn initiated and communicated when, what and how. The Cologne Administrative Court has now ordered the Ministry of Health to release the reports and relevant correspondence.

Offenburg-based author Lutz hopes that the Cologne judgment will also strengthen his position before the Bonn Regional Court and that he will finally be paid for his mask deliveries in 2020. For his lawyer Christoph Partsch, this is a judgment with striking effect: the decision in Cologne will eliminate the previous information disadvantage for plaintiffs.

Partsch believes that access to the files not only helps his client, but also other plaintiffs in bringing damages claims against the Federal Ministry of Health. So far, 142 “mask cases” have been received at the Bonn Regional Court alone. That’s about 420 million euros in tax money. Many masks have already expired and millions of masks have already been incinerated.