MILLER ACT PAYMENT BOND SURETY BOUND TO ARBITRATION AWARD

Here is an interesting case binding a Miller Act payment bond surety to an arbitration award against its prime contractor (bond principal) that it received sufficient notice of.  Notice is the operative word.  The surety could have participated in the arbitration, elected not to, and when its prime contractor (bond principal) lost the arbitration, it was NOT given another bite out of the apple to litigate facts already been decided.

In BRC Uluslararasi Taahut VE Ticaret A.S. v. Lexon Ins. Co., 2020 WL 6801933 (D. Maryland 2020), a prime contractor was hired by the federal government to make security upgrades and interior renovations to a United States embassy in the Czech Republic.  The prime contractor hired a subcontractor to perform all of the installed contract work.   The prime contractor terminated the subcontractor for default during the course of construction.

The subcontractor demanded arbitration in accordance with the subcontract claiming it was wrongfully terminated.  The subcontractor also filed a lawsuit asserting a Miller Act payment bond claim against the prime contractor’s surety (as well as a breach of contract action against the prime contractor). The subcontractor made clear it intended to pursue its claims in arbitration and hold the payment bond surety jointly and severally liable.  The parties agreed to stay the lawsuit since the facts were identical to those being arbitrated. The arbitration went forward and an award was entered in favor of the subcontractor and against the prime contractor for approximately $2.3 Million.

The subcontractor moved to lift the stay entered in the lawsuit to confirm the arbitration award against the prime contractor and Miller Act payment bond surety.  The prime contractor moved to vacate the award.

Beginning with the prime contractor’s motion to vacate the arbitration award, the Federal Arbitration Act gives limited grounds to support vacating an arbitration award.  The grounds the prime contractor raised will not be discussed. They were all denied because it is difficult to vacate an arbitrator’s final award and that is the important take-away message.  In support of this (and contained in a noteworthy, lengthy discussion by the Court), the Court stated: “The FAA [Federal Arbitration Act] creates a ‘strong presumption in favor of confirming arbitration awards,’ and ‘judicial review’ of such awards ‘must be an extremely narrow exercise.’BRC Uluslararasi Taahut, supra, at *4.

Of significance here, the subcontractor moved to enforce the arbitration award against the Miller Act payment bond surety, as it should.  Even though the surety was not a party to the arbitration, it was on notice of the arbitration, was notified the subcontractor would look to hold it jointly and severally liable, and the surety consented to the stay of the lawsuit pending the outcome of the arbitration. The Court noted, “[s]uch notice is sufficient to bind [the surety] to the arbitration award.” BRC Uluslararasi Taahut, supra, at *9 (citing cases showing that if the surety has notice of the proceedings against its principal, it can be bound by an arbitration award against the principal).  Further, the Court intuitively stated:

[The surety] clearly knew that the arbitration would occur.  Now dissatisfied with the outcome, [the surety] wishes not to be bound by the very proceeding [the surety] averred would avoid duplicative litigation.  The Court suspects that had [the prime contractor] prevailed in arbitration, [the surety] would be singing a different tune.  [The surety] will not be afforded a second bite at the litigation apple simply because it must now honor its obligations as the surety on the project.

Id.

Remember, if you are arbitrating rights, do not neglect to timely file your Miller Act payment bond lawsuit, or for that matter, any statutory payment bond lawsuit.  Give the surety NOTICE that you intend to hold it jointly and severally liable for any arbitration award entered against its prime contractor (bond principal).   Whether the surety elects to participate in the arbitration is within its discretion, but the key is to give the surety notice so that if you do prevail, you find yourself in same shoes as the subcontractor discussed in this case—binding the payment bond surety to the award entered against the prime contractor.  The prime contractor and its surety should also recognize this likely outcome.

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

 

THINK TWICE BEFORE HEDGING A POSITION OR DEFENSE ON A SPECULATIVE EVENT OR OCCURRENCE

Sometimes, hedging a position on a potential occurrence is not prudent.  Stated differently, hedging a position on a contingent event is not the right course of action.  The reason being is that a potential occurrence or contingent event is SPECULATIVE.   The occurrence or event may not take place and, even if it does take place, the impact is unknown.

An example of hedging a defense on such a potential occurrence or contingent event can be found in a construction dispute involving a federal project out of the Eastern District of Virginia,  U.S. f/u/b/o Champco, Inc. v. Arch Insurance Co., 2020 WL 1644565 (E.D.Va. 2020). In this case, the prime contractor hired a subcontractor to perform electrical work, under one subcontract, and install a security system, under a separate subcontract.  The subcontractor claimed it was owed money under the two subcontracts and instituted a lawsuit against the prime contractor’s Miller Act payment bond.  The prime contractor had issued the subcontractor an approximate $71,000 back-charge for delays.  While the subcontractor did not accept the back-charge, it moved for summary judgment claiming that the liability for the back-charge can be resolved at trial as there is still over $300,000 in contract balance that should be paid to it.  The prime contractor countered that the delays caused by the subcontractor could be greater than $71,000 based on a negative evaluation in the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (“CPARS”).   A negative CPARS rating by the federal government due to the delays caused by the subcontractor would result in a (potential) loss of business with the federal government (i.e., lost profit) to the prime contractor.   The main problem for the prime contractor:  a negative CPARs rating was entirely speculative as there had not been a negative CPARs rating and, even if there was, the impact a negative rating would have on the prime contractor’s future business with the federal government was unknown.   To this point, the district court stated:

In this case, [prime contractor’s] claim for damages is wholly speculative.  [Prime contractor] has not produced any evidence that its stated condition precedent—a negative CPARS rating—will actually occur and will have a negative impact on its future federal contracting endeavors. Specifically, [prime contractor] has not identified any facts that indicate that it will be subject to a negative CPARS rating or any indication of the Navy’s dissatisfaction with its work as the prime contractor on the Project… Further, a CPARS rating is only one aspect taken into consideration when federal contracts are awarded.  In sum, there is no evidence of the following: (1) a negative CPARS rating issued to [prime contractor]; (2) [prime contractor’s] hypothetical negative rating will be the result of the delay [prime contractor] alleges was caused by [subcontractor]; or (3) [prime contractor’s] hypothetical negative CPARS rating will result in future lost profits.

U.S. f/u/b/o Champco, Inc., supra, at *2 (internal citation omitted).

The prime contractor hedged its defense on the potentiality that it would receive a negative CPARs rating and, if it did, it would lose business with the federal government.  Based on this, the prime contractor decided to withhold more than $300,000 in contract balance over and above the $71,000 in delay damages it could prove.  The district court saw right through this argument by finding it wholly speculative and granting summary judgment in favor of the subcontractor for the subcontract balance over and above the $71,000 that the prime contractor did not have an objective basis to withhold.

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

QUICK NOTE: MILLER ACT PAYMENT BOND PRESENTATION

Recently, I put on a short presentation on the nuts and bolts of Miller Act payment bonds.  You can find the presentation here.   The presentation hits on key topics that are important to know for purposes of preserving Miller Act payment bond rights and defending against these types of bond claims.

The presentation was put on for LevelSet that, among other things, helps contractors and suppliers, nationally, preserve and maximize lien, bond, and payment collection rights.

For more in depth information on Miller Act payment bonds, please check out my e-book.

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.Mil

 

TRANSFERRING VENUE OF MILLER ACT PAYMENT BOND LAWSUIT PER MANDATORY FORUM SELECTION PROVISION

Many construction contracts contain a forum selection provision that requires disputes to brought in a particular jurisdiction.  A mandatory forum selection provision will use words of exclusivity, like “shall,” that unequivocally requires disputes to be brought in that jurisdiction.  On the other hand, a permissive forum selection provision will not use words of exclusivity meaning a dispute “may” be brought in that jurisdiction.  Where to file a lawsuit is an initial, important consideration.  (For a further discussion on how Florida deals with forum selection provisions, check this posting.)

Under the federal Miller Act, governed under federal law, lawsuits are to be brought in the district where the contract was to be performed and executed, i.e., typically where the project is located.  40 USC s. 3133.  However, this does not mean that there is not a valid basis to sue in another jurisdiction, or move to transfer venue to another jurisdiction, such as when the underlying mandatory forum selection provision requires a jurisdiction different than the where the contract is to be performed or executed.

For example, in U.S. f/u/b/o John E. Kelly & Sons Electrical Construction, Inc. v. Hartford Fire Ins. Co., 2020 WL 704899 (D. Maryland 2020), a subcontractor filed a Miller Act payment bond lawsuit in Maryland against the prime contractor and prime contractor’s surety.  The federal project was performed in Maryland which is why the lawsuit was filed in Maryland.  The subcontract, however, required that lawsuits “shall be brought in Morgan County, Alabama.”  The prime contractor and its Miller Act payment bond surety moved to transfer venue from Maryland to Alabama.  The federal district court agreed to transfer venue finding that “as with any statutory venue provision [such as in the Miller Act], parties way waive its protections by agreeing to a mandatory forum selection provision.”  U.S., supra, at *3.

Mandatory forum selection provisions are given signifiant weight because this is the forum that parties bargained for prior to the occurrence of any dispute.  This is why examining forum selection provisions prior to filing a lawsuit is an initial, important consideration.

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

 

SERVING NOTICE OF NONPAYMENT UNDER MILLER ACT

Under the federal Miller Act, if a claimant is NOT in privity with the prime contractor, it needs to serve a “notice of nonpayment” within 90 days of its final furnishing.   In this manner, 40 U.S.C. 3133 (b)(2) states:

 

A person having a direct contractual relationship with a subcontractor but no contractual relationship, express or implied, with the contractor furnishing the payment bond may bring a civil action on the payment bond on giving written notice to the contractor within 90 days from the date on which the person did or performed the last of the labor or furnished or supplied the last of the material for which the claim is made. The action must state with substantial accuracy the amount claimed and the name of the party to whom the material was furnished or supplied or for whom the labor was done or performed. The notice shall be served–

(A) by any means that provides written, third-party verification of delivery to the contractor at any place the contractor maintains an office or conducts business or at the contractor’s residence; or

(B) in any manner in which the United States marshal of the district in which the public improvement is situated by law may serve summons.

Although the bolded language states that, “The action must state with substantial accuracy the amount claimed and the name of the party to whom the material was furnished or supplied or for whom the labor was done…,” courts have found that this requirement also applies to the notice of nonpayment.  See Prince Payne Enterprises, Inc. f/u/b/o Prince Payne Enterprises, Inc. v. Tigua Enterprises, Inc., 2019 WL 5394197, *4 (D. South Carolina 2019).

However, there is a certain liberality regarding the format of the notice as long as it states with substantial accuracy the amount claimed and the name of the party to whom the work was done.

For instance, in Prince Payne Enterprises, a sub-subcontractor—not in privity with the prime contractor—filed a Miller Act payment bond lawsuit.  To support that it provided a notice of nonpayment to the prime contractor, the sub-subcontractor attached a hodgepodge of documentation, none of which was applicable, to its complaint, as well as alleged that it demanded payment from the prime contractor within 90 days of its final furnishing date on the project.  The prime contractor moved to dismiss the Miller Act payment bond claim based on the inapplicability of the hodgepodge of documentation which included letters that came after the 90 days expired.  But, based on the allegation that the sub-subcontractor demanded payment on the prime contractor, the Court held:

While the dates and contents of the attached exhibits may not meet the notice requirements of the Miller Act, the court must accept the allegation that Prince Payne [sub-subcontractor] demanded payment from Tigua [prime contractor] within ninety days of last performing work as true. Discovery may reveal that this is not true or that none of the communications satisfy the Miller Act’s notice requirements; however, at this early stage of litigation, the court finds that Prince Payne’s proposed amended complaint sufficiently alleges a viable cause of action for a violation of the Miller Act.

Prince Payne Enterprises, supra, at *4.

This sub-subcontractor is likely in trouble supporting that it served a notice of nonpayment within 90 days of its final furnishing date.  However, it lived to see another day by surviving a motion to dismiss.  Summary judgment will be different.  This could have been avoided had the sub-subcontractor appreciated that to preserve a Miller Act payment bond claim, it MUST serve a notice of nonpayment within 90 days of its final furnishing.  Rights preservation is everything!

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

 

GOOD-TO-KNOW POINTS REGARDING (I) MILLER ACT PAYMENT BONDS AND (II) PAYMENT BOND SURETY COMPELLING ARBITRATION

Every now and then I come across an opinion that addresses good-to-know legal issues as a corollary of strategic litigation decisions that are questionable and/or creative.  An opinion out of the United States District Court of New Mexico, Rock Roofing, LLC v. Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America, 2019 WL 4418918 (D. New Mexico 2019), is such an opinion.

In Rock Roofing, an owner hired a contractor to construct apartments. The contractor furnished a payment bond.  The contractor, in the performance of its work, hired a roofing subcontractor.  A dispute arose under the subcontract and the roofer recorded a construction lien against the project. The contractor, per New Mexico law, obtained a bond to release the roofer’s construction lien from the project (real property).  The roofer then filed a lawsuit in federal court against the payment bond surety claiming it is entitled to: (1)  collect on the contractor’s Miller Act payment bond (?!?) and (2) foreclose its construction lien against the lien release bond furnished per New Mexico law.

Count I – Miller Act Payment Bond

Claiming the payment bond issued by the contractor is a Miller Act payment bond is a head scratcher. This claim was dismissed with prejudice upon the surety’s motion to dismiss. This was an easy call.

A Miller Act payment bond is a bond a prime contractor gives to the United States (US) for a public project. Here, the contractor entered into a contract with a private developer for a private apartment project. There was nothing to suggest that the private developer was, in fact, the US government or an agent of the US government.  There was also nothing to suggest that the apartment project was, in fact, a public project.  The roofer alleged that it believed the US Department of Housing and Urban Development provided funding for the project. The Court found this allegation as a big so-what: “The Court finds this allegation insufficient to demonstrate either the payment bond was furnished to the [US] Government as required by the [Miller Act], or that the apartment complex was a public building or public work as required by the [Miller Act].” Rock Roofing, LLC, 2019 WL at *3.

Count II – Foreclosure of Construction Lien Against Lien Release Bond

The surety moved to compel the roofer’s foreclosure claim against the lien release bond to arbitration pursuant to the contractor’s subcontract with the roofer.  The roofer countered that arbitration was inappropriate since the surety was not a party to the subcontract.

The Court (relying on a Florida district court opinion I was intimately involved with) found that the doctrine of equitable estoppel applied to compel the roofer to arbitration because the roofer’s claim for payment was based on its subcontract that contains the arbitration provision. “Because [the roofer’s] claim on the payment bond depends on its subcontract with [the contractor], the arbitration clause in the subcontract must precede [the roofer’s] right to bring suit as provided by the payment bond.Rock Roofing LLC at *7.

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

 

VENUE FOR MILLER ACT PAYMENT BOND WHEN PROJECT IS OUTSIDE OF US

The proper venue for a Miller Act payment bond claim is “in the United States District Court for any district in which the contract was to be performed and executed, regardless of the amount in controversy.” 40 U.S.C. s. 3133(b)(3)(B).

Well, there are a number of federal construction projects that take place outside of the United States.  For these projects, where is the correct venue to sue a Miller Act payment bond if there is no US District Court where the project is located?  A recent opinion out of the Southern District of Florida answers this question.

In U.S. ex. rel. Salt Energy, LLC v. Lexon Ins. Co., 2019 WL 3842290 (S.D.Fla. 2019), a prime contractor was hired by the government to design and construct a solar power system for the US Embassy’s parking garage in Burkina Faso.  The prime contractor hired a subcontractor to perform a portion of its scope of work.

The subcontractor remained unpaid in excess of $500,000 and instituted a Miller Act payment bond claim against the payment bond surety in the Southern District of Florida, Miami division.  The surety moved to transfer venue to the Eastern District of Virginia arguing that the Southern District of Florida was an improper venue.  The court agreed and transferred venue.  Why?

Initially, because the project is outside of the US, the subcontractor could NOT sue the surety where the project is located.  Under the Miller Act, the venue provision was enacted for the benefit of the prime contractor and surety and, therefore, “the final site of the government project is dispositive of the [venue] matter.”  US ex. rel. Salt Energy, LLC, 2019 WL at *4 (rejecting the subcontractor’s argument that venue for a Miller Act payment bond claim can be at a venue independent of jobsite activities.)

Therefore, to determine the appropriate venue provision (as the venue set forth under the Miller Act would be inapplicable to a project outside of the US), the Court had to look at general venue standards governing federal courts.  The Court adopted the general venue provision in 28 U.S.C. s. 1391 finding that appropriate venue would be “wherever any defendant resides or wherever a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred.” U.S. ex. rel. Salt Energy, LLC, 2019 WL at *4.

The surety resided in Tennessee.  However, the surety did not attempt to transfer the case to an applicable District Court in Tennessee, but instead, moved to transfer to the Eastern District of Virginia. The surety argued, and the Court agreed, that the Eastern District of Virginia is appropriate because this is where the government executed the prime contract, where the awarding agency is located, where invoices were sent, and where the prime contractor submitted deliverables.  The subcontractor countered that a substantial portion of its work occurred in the Southern District of Florida where it is located, making the Southern District of Florida an appropriate venue.  Unfortunately for the subcontractor, the Court was not buying this argument because the activities the subcontractor claimed it performed in the Southern District of Florida were in relation to its subcontract, not the prime contract, and were largely administrative or ministerial in nature – substantial performance did not occur in the Southern District of Florida.

The surety would have been able to transfer venue to the appropriate district court in Tennessee (where it resided) or Virginia (where a substantial part of the events giving rise to the claim at issue took place).

The subcontractor’s argument to keep venue in the Southern District of Florida was a worthy argument. However, the Court perceived many of the activities the subcontractor performed in the Southern District (coordinating, billing, phone calls, etc.) were not a substantial part of the events giving rise to the claim.  The Court was more focused on activities in relation to the prime contract, and because the prime contract and awarding agency were in the Eastern District of Virginia, that was a more appropriate venue.

Venue is an important consideration in any dispute, including a Miller Act payment bond dispute when a foreign project is involved and the venue provision in the Miller Act does not apply.

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

QUICK NOTE: 4 ELEMENTS OF MILLER ACT PAYMENT BOND CLAIM

 

 

A subcontractor on a federal construction project must prove the following four elements in a Miller Act payment bond claim:

 

1. The subcontractor supplied labor and/or material per its subcontract;

 

2. The subcontractor is unpaid for the labor and/or material supplied per its subcontract;

 

3. The subcontractor had a good faith belief that the labor and/or material supplied was for purposes of the project (and the prime contractor’s contractual scope of work for the project); and

 

4. The subcontractor satisfied jurisdictional requirements in bringing the Miller Act payment bond lawsuit.

 

Notably, the  subcontractor’s performance will be determined in reference to the subcontract. This includes reference to the scope of work and the payment terms contained in the subcontract. 

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

 

“LABOR” THAT CAN BE PURSUED AGAINST A MILLER ACT PAYMENT BOND

It is important to ensure you consult with counsel when it comes to Miller Act payment bond rights and defenses.  One consideration is the type of “labor” that can be pursued against a Miller Act payment bond.  The opinion in Prime Mechanical Service, Inc. v. Federal Solutions Groups, Inc., 2018 WL 6199930 (N.D.Cal. 2018) contains a relevant and important discussion on this topic.

 

In this case, a prime contractor on a federal construction project hired a subcontractor to prepare and install a new HVAC system.  The subcontractor was not paid and filed a lawsuit against the prime contractor’s Miller Act payment bond.   The prime contractor moved to dismiss the claim, with one argument being that design work the subcontractor was suing for was NOT “labor” that can be pursued against a Miller Act payment bond.  The Court agreed:

 

As used in the Miller Act, the term “labor” primarily encompasses services involving “manual labor,” see United States ex rel. Shannon v. Fed. Ins. Co., 251 Fed. Appx. 269, 272 (5th Cir. 2007), or “physical toil,” see United States ex rel. Barber-Colman Co. v. United States Fid. & Guar. Co., No. 93-1665, 1994 WL 108502, at *3 (4th Cir. 1994). Although “work by a professional, such as an architect or engineer” generally does not constitute “labor” within the meaning of the Miller Act, see United States ex rel. Naberhaus-Burke, Inc. v. Butt & Head, Inc., 535 F. Supp. 1155, 1158 (S.D. Ohio 1982), some courts have found “certain professional supervisory work is covered by the Miller Act, namely, skilled professional work which involves actual superintending, supervision, or inspection at the job site see United States ex rel. Olson v. W.H. Cates Constr. Co., 972 F.2d 987, 990-92 (8th Cir. 1992) (internal quotation and citation omitted) (citing, as examples, “architect … who actually superintends the work as it is being done” and “project manager … [who] did some physical labor at the job site” (internal quotation and citation omitted)).

 

Here, plaintiff alleges it “attended 4 or 5 on-site field meetings … to determine the location and layout of the new equipment, … performed on-site field coordination with the existing equipment, … took on-site field measurements for fabrication of duct work and support hangers, … scheduled the start date and while on-site planned site access and crane locations, prepared product and equipment submittals, and obtained security passes.” (See FAC ¶ 12.) The above-listed services are, however, “clerical or administrative tasks which, even if performed at the job site, do not involve the physical toil or manual work necessary to bring them within the scope of the Miller Act.” See United States ex rel. Constructors, Inc. v. Gulf. Ins. Co., 313 F. Supp. 2d 593, 597 (E.D. Va. 2004) (holding subcontractor did not furnish “ ‘labor’ within the contemplation of the Miller Act” where subcontractor’s duties entailed paying invoices, reviewing subcontractor and vendor proposals, supervising the hiring of site personnel, and providing site coordination services). Although taking “on-site field measurements” (see FAC ¶ 12) may have involved some minor physical activity, it does not amount to the physical “toil” required by the Miller Act.

 

Prime Mechanical Service, 2018 WL 6199930, at *3.

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

 

PROVIDING “LABOR” UNDER THE MILLER ACT

shutterstock_611517449A recent opinion out of the Northern District of California discusses the “labor” required to support a Miller Act payment bond claim on a federal construction project.   It is a good case that discusses the type of labor required  to support a Miller Act payment bond claim.

 

In Prime Mechanical Service, Inc. v. Federal Solutions Group, Inc., 2018 WL 619930 (N.D.Cal. 2018), a prime contractor was awarded a contract to design and install a new HVAC system.  The prime contractor subcontracted the work to a mechanical contractor. The mechanical contractor with its sub-designer prepared and submitted a new HVAC design to the prime contractor and provided 4-5 onsite services to determine the location and layout for the new HVAC equipment, perform field measurements, obtain security passes, and plan site access and crane locations.  The mechanical contractor submitted an invoice to the prime contractor and the invoice remained unpaid for more than 90 days, which the prime contractor refused to pay.  The mechanical contractor than filed a Miller Act payment bond lawsuit.

 

The prime contractor and surety argued that the mechanical contractor had no valid Miller Act payment bond claim because it was seeking professional services and not the labor covered by the Miller Act.   The trial court agreed. 

 

As used in the Miller Act, the term “labor” primarily encompasses services involving “manual labor,” or “physical toil.”  Although “work by a professional, such as an architect or engineer” generally does not constitute “labor” within the meaning of the Miller Act, some courts have found “certain professional supervisory work is covered by the Miller Act, namely, skilled professional work which involves actual superintending, supervision, or inspection at the job site.”

 

Prime Mechanical Service, Inc., 2018 WL at *3 (internal citations omitted). 

 

The mechanical contractor attempted to argue that it was onsite and the onsite services it performed should constitute “labor.”   However, the onsite services the mechanical contractor identified were clerical or administrative-type services which did NOT involve “the physical toil or manual work necessary to bring them within the scope of the Miller Act.”  Prime Contractor Mechanical Service, Inc., 2018 WL at *3.  

 

In this case, the mechanical contractor gave it a worthy go to support a Miller Act payment bond claim. But, because the services it performed did not rise up the type of “labor” covered by the Miller Act, it was out of luck.   Had these services been coupled with actual  manual labor at the site connected to the installation of the new HVAC system, the result would have been much different since the mechanical contractor would have performed “labor” covered by the Miller Act. 

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.