Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. v Guar. Co. of N. Am. USA, 2019 BL 97923 (Colo. App. Mar. 21, 2019).

This construction dispute involved rights and obligations under a performance bond supplied for an office building construction project in Denver, Colorado.  Whiting-Turner Contracting Company was the general contractor, and it subcontracted Klempco Construction to construct an anchor system for the project’s underground parking garage.  Klempco provided performance and payment bonds for the project from Guarantee Company of North America USA (“GCNA”).  When Klempco fell behind schedule, it stopped paying its sub-subcontractors and directed Whiting-Turner to assume responsibility for its work and sub-subcontractors.

Continue Reading Colorado Court of Appeals Finds Contractor Satisfied Conditions Precedent Under Performance Bond

Developers Sur. & Indem. Co. v. Carothers Constr., Inc., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111021 (D.S.C. July 18, 2017); Developers Sur. & Indem. Co. v. Carothers Constr., Inc., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135948 (D. Kan. Aug. 24, 2017)

Two recent decisions from United States District Courts for the District of South Carolina and the District of Kansas, respectively, reached opposite conclusions when presented with the same issue:  Is a surety bound to arbitrate claims against it when the surety’s bond incorporates its principal’s contract by reference, and the principal’s contract contains an agreement to arbitrate disputes.  The District of South Carolina, applying South Carolina law, held that a surety is bound by the arbitration agreement in the incorporated contract, while the District of Kansas held that a surety is not so bound.

These cases both arise from an arbitration demand filed by the general contractor, Carothers Construction, Inc. (“Carothers”) against the surety, Developers Surety and Indemnity Company (“DSI”).  DSI issued performance and payment bonds on behalf of subcontractors Liberty Enterprises Specialty Contractor (“Liberty”) and Seven Hills Construction, LLC (“Seven Hills”) in favor of Carothers for their work on Projects located in South Carolina and Kansas, respectively.  Each subcontractor defaulted on its contractual obligations.  Carothers initiated arbitration against DSI regarding both Projects.  According to Carothers, the bonds incorporated by reference the subcontracts’ mandatory arbitration clauses and thus, DSI was subject to binding arbitration.  In declaratory judgment actions before Federal District Courts in South Carolina and Kansas, DSI asked the courts to declare that the arbitration clause did not bind it to arbitrate Carothers’ claims.  Each court reached the directly opposite conclusion.  This article discusses the decision reached by each court in turn.


Continue Reading When Surety Bond Incorporates the Subcontract by Reference, Is the Subcontract’s Arbitration Clause Also Incorporated? Federal Court in South Carolina Says Yes; Federal Court in Kansas Says No — In Two Matters Involving the Same Parties

Allied World Specialty Ins. Co. v. Abat Lerew Constr., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61794 (D. Neb. Apr. 24, 2017)

 Abat Lerew Construction (“ALC”) entered into multiple construction projects which required it to obtain surety bonds guaranteeing its performance. ALC obtained the bonds from Allied World Specialty Insurance Company (“Allied”) and also entered into an indemnity agreement with Allied.  In that agreement ALC agreed to indemnify and hold Allied harmless from and against all liability and to deposit with Allied collateral in an amount determined by Allied to be sufficient to cover liability for any claims under the bonds.

During ALC’s performance of the bonded contracts, Allied received claims on the bonds in excess of $300,000. Invoking the terms of its indemnity agreement with ALC, Allied demanded that ALC post collateral security in the amount of $400,000 to cover liability for the claims.  ALC refused and Allied commenced an action seeking equitable relief requiring ALC to deposit the demanded collateral security.  Upon commencement of the litigation, Allied asked the court to issue a preliminary injunction requiring ALC to post the $400,000 security and restraining ALC from transferring assets.


Continue Reading Federal Court in Nebraska Denies Surety’s Request for Preliminary Injunction Requiring Principal to Post Collateral Security, Finding No Irreparable Harm Absent Proof That Principal Was Insolvent or Secreting Assets

Raito, Inc. v. Cardi Corp.
2010 R.I. Super. LEXIS 108 (RI Super. Ct. July 14, 2010)

The Superior Court of Rhode Island was recently asked to reconsider its earlier ruling in which it found that a condition precedent to recovery under a performance bond was not satisfied and, therefore, summary judgment in favor of the surety was warranted. The Court found no reason to disturb its prior ruling and denied the motion for reconsideration.


Continue Reading Rhode Island Court Holds Notice of Default and Termination Prior to Completion a Condition to Claim on Subcontractor Performance Bond

U.S. ex rel. Platinum Mechanical, LLC v. U.S. Surety. Co.
07 Cv. 3318(CLB), 2007 U.S.Dist. LEXIS 94026( S.D.N.Y. Dec. 21, 2007)
CFP Group, Inc. was awarded a contract with the United States Government to refurbish facilities at Stewart Air National Guard Base in New York. Platinum Mechanical, LLC subcontracted to perform all of the plumbing and HVAC work for the Project. All work on the Project was to be completed by March 12, 2007. Notice to proceed issued on June 14, 2006.

Continue Reading US District Court in New York Dismisses Contractor’s Performance Bond Claim Against Subcontractor’s Surety Because of Contractor’s Failure to Provide Pre -Default Notification

La Liberte, LLC v. Keating Building Corp. v. Roman Mosaic and Tile Co.
Civ. A. No. 07-1397, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90878 (E.D. Pa., Dec. 11, 2007)
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed the third-party complaint of the defendant holding that the statute of limitations had expired on the defendant’s performance bond claims against surety companies.
Plaintiff La Liberte LLC sued Defendant Keating Building Corporation for breach of contract, breach of implied warranty, and breach of express warranty in connection with the work Keating performed on a hotel owned by La Liberte. Under the contract between La Liberte and Keating, Keating was to make renovations and construct an addition to La Liberte’s hotel. Keating, in turn, entered into several subcontracts. Among them, Keating contracted with Voegele Mechanical Inc. and Shannon Plastering and Drywall Corporation. Both subcontracts contained warranty provisions which ran one year from acceptance by La Liberte. Voegele and Shannon obtained performance bonds for the benefit of Keating. The performance bonds contained the following identical provisions:
Continue Reading US District Court in Pennsylvania Holds Time for Suit Prescribed in Performance Bond Is Not Tolled By "Discovery Rule"

Dooley & Mack Constructors, Inc., v. Developers Surety & Indemnity Company
2007 Fla. App. LEXIS 17769 (Fla. Ct. App. Nov. 7, 2007)
Dooley & Mack Constructors, Inc. (“Contractor”), the general contractor on a Miami-Dade Community College project, was the obligee on a performance bond issued by Developers Surety and Indemnity Company (“Surety”), on behalf of Buildtec Construction Group, Inc., the masonry subcontractor (“Subcontractor”). After Subcontractor defaulted by abandoning the job, Contractor completed the masonry work itself and sued the Surety for the resulting damages.

Continue Reading Florida Court Holds Notice of Default to Surety Not Required Where Subcontract Provision as to Rights on Default Was Incorporated in Bond

National American Insurance Company v. United States
No. 2007-5016, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 20058 (Fed. Cir. August 23, 2007)
The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the lower court’s grant of a motion for summary judgment. The Court held that a payment bond surety is equitably subrogated to the rights of the contractor whose debt it discharges, and thus can pursue a claim directly against the government.
The case arose out of a contract between Innovative PBX Services, Inc. (“Contractor”) and the United States Small Business Administration (the “government”) for the replacement of a telephone system at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The Contractor subcontracted part of the work to Nortel Communications Systems, Inc. (“Subcontractor”). As required by the Miller Act, the Contractor executed payment and performance bonds in favor of the government with National American Insurance Company (“Surety”) as the surety. After completion of the contract work, the Subcontractor notified the Surety that it was owed approximately $675,000 for labor and materials that the Contractor had failed to pay for. The Subcontractor then instituted a Miller Act claim under the payment bond against the Surety, which the Surety settled. The Surety also notified the government that no addition payments should be made to the Contractor in light of the Miller Act claim and requested that all remaining contract funds be held for the Surety’s benefit. The government, however, did not follow the Surety’s request and made its final contract payment to the Contractor. As a result, the Surety filed a complaint against he government seeking damages of $280,000.
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Holds that a Payment Bond Surety that Discharges a Contractor’s Obligation to Pay a Subcontractor is Equitably Subrogated to the Rights of Both the Contractor and Subcontractor and May Bring Suit Directly Against the United States

Menorah Home and Hosp. for the Aged and Infirm v. Fireman’s Fund Ins. Co.
2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27684 (E.D.N.Y., April 13, 2007)
The District Court for the Eastern District of New York held that a liquidating agreement between an Owner and a Surety was valid and enforceable, even though it permitted the Owner to retain any recovery it obtained from the third-party, rather than having money pass-through to the surety.
The case arose out of a project to build and renovate facilities for Menorah Home and Hospital for the Aged and Infirm (“Owner”). The Owner entered into a contract with J.A. Jones Construction Group, LLC (“Jones”) for the Project. When Jones defaulted, Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company (“FFIC”), Jones’ surety, took over and completed the Project. The Owner subsequently sued FFIC alleging that FFIC had breached its performance bond obligations by failing to complete the Project in a timely manner and correct deficiencies in the work performed by Jones.
Continue Reading NY District Court Enforces Liquidating Agreement Between Owner And Surety That Permitted Owner To Retain Recovery Obtained From Third Party To Satisfy Owner’s Claim For Damages Against Surety

Titan Stone, Tile & Masonry v. Hunt Construction Group, Inc.
Civ. No. 05-3362, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19489 (D.N.J. March 19, 2007)
The Court decided several motions for summary judgment filed by a prime contractor to claims of a subcontractor. Among the motions decided, the Court addressed the duty of good faith and fair dealing attendant to an obligation to evaluate payment applications, the breadth of a “pay-if-paid” clause, whether a monthly release executed with a payment application barred claims for extra work performed after the pay period in the attendant payment application and whether the plaintiff adequately plead its claim for violation of the New Jersey Trust Fund Act.
Continue Reading NJ Court Denies Contractor Summary Judgment On Subcontractor’s Claim For Contract Balances And Compensation For Extra Work – Duty Of Good Faith And Fair Dealing, “Pay-If-Paid” Clause, Payment Release, And New Jersey Trust Fund Act Considered