Bond claims, like mechanics liens, have specific rules that must be followed in order for the claim to be valid. Also like mechanics liens, the rules that govern bond claims very from state to state. Since state bond claim laws are similar to, and often at least partially based on, the Miller Act (which governs bond claims on federal projects) the various state laws are sometimes known as the individual state’s “Little Miller Act”. Louisiana’s Little Miller Act is bifurcated, with general public contracts under La. R.S. 38:2181 — 2247, and “Roads, Bridges, and Ferries” under La. R.S. 48:250 — 256.12.
Louisiana Bond Claim Basics
Generally, preliminary notice is not required prior to filing a valid bond claim on a Louisiana public project. There are exceptions, however. Equipment lessors must always send preliminary notice (copy of the lease) to the public entity in charge of the work, and material suppliers who do not contract with the general contractor must provide notice to the general contractor if the notice has been recorded.
Notwithstanding any preliminary notice requirements, the bond claim must be filed after the claimant has performed work, and within 45 days from the completion of the project as a whole.
Louisiana is different than most states in that a bond claim on a public project is required to be recorded. In most states, the bond claim must only be sent to the public entity letting the contract, or the general contractor, or the surety, or a combination thereof. In Louisiana, however, the claim must be recorded with the Recorder of Mortgages for the parish in which the work was done. Further, claimants who did not contract directly with the general contractor must provide the general contractor with a copy of the bond claim in order to have a right of action against the contractor or the surety on the bond furnished by the contractor.
Different Requirements for Different Projects
As I just mentioned, all claimants without a direct contract with the general contractor must provide the general with a copy of the bond claim, and this is true for all types of public projects. This is where the bifurcated nature of the Louisiana bond claim law comes into play. For public projects subject to Title 48, that is, Roads, Bridges, and Ferries, there is an additional requirement.
For road, bridge, and ferry projects, all claimants without a direct contract with the general contractor must provide the general contractor and the surety with a copy of the bond claim. Other than the words “and surety” being added, the rest of the section mirrors the Title 38 section exactly. It is unclear if either the inclusion of the surety in 48:256.12, or the lack of inclusion of the surety in 38:2247, is intentional. While it is perfectly possible that the legislature intended for this slight alteration, it makes little sense to require the notification of additional parties merely because the work was on a road, bridge, or ferry, it is not unprecedented. Many other states have specific requirements for highway projects, or university projects. The odd thing about the Louisiana statutes is that they are otherwise mirror images, except for those few added words.
The moral of the story here, is that the surety may or may not need to receive a copy of the bond claim – and whether the surety’s receipt of the bond claim is required depends on the specific public project type.