Missouri's Office of Administration in 2007 wrongly canceled its cleaning contract with the Sam's Janitorial Service company, the state appeals court in Kansas City ruled this week.
The ruling agreed with last year's ruling by then-Cole County Circuit Judge Richard G. Callahan.
But, two members of the three-judge appeals panel added, since both parties had signed a contract allowing either party to terminate the contract with 30-days notice, Callahan was wrong to award $151,782.67 in damages through the ending dates for each of Sam's nine state contracts.
The legal battle began March 6, 2007, when state and federal law officers arrested or detained 25 Sam's employees working in several state office buildings, including the Truman State Office Building in Jefferson City.
Ultimately, the appeals court noted, "Of the twenty-five employees arrested, eight were charged. Four of the eight employees were eventually convicted of having forged documents that showed they could legally work in the United States."
But the same day as the raid, the court noted, the Blunt administration's Office of Administration "terminated the contracts because of alleged "violation of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act (and) also debarred Sam's Janitorial from bidding on state contracts for a period of two years.'"
The Nixon administration later, in March 2009, extended the debarment for another year, the appeals court also noted.
By then, "Sam" - K. Asamoah-Boadu, who, the appeals court noted, is "a United States citizen" - had sued the state, arguing that Missouri government had breached its contract and issued an unlawful executive order.
That order, issued by then-Gov. Matt Blunt, allowed the state automatically to declare a contractor to "be in breach of contract (and) lawfully terminate the contract and suspend or debar the contractor from doing business in the state of Missouri ... if the state determines that a current contractor employs any persons who are not eligible to work in the United States in violation of federal law."
OA argued in the original trial, and again in the appeal, that "it was entitled to terminate the contracts because Sam's Janitorial materially breached the contracts when it violated federal law."
However, Judge Victor C. Howard wrote for the court, "the evidence cited by the OA did not demonstrate that Sam's Janitorial knowingly hired or continued to employ an unauthorized alien. Similarly, it was insufficient to prove that Sam's Janitorial hired individuals without complying with the employment verification system of" the federal law.