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Contractor paid in 14 days but holding money

LouisianaRecovery Options

If I have a contractor in Louisiana who has been paid by the architect/owner, can I have him arrested via sheriff deputy on the 20th day after he's been paid?

2 replies

Sep 17, 2018
I'm sorry to hear you're contractor isn't making timely payments. As satisfying as it would be to have them arrested, it is very unlikely that that's the best (or even a possible) solution here. However, that doesn't mean they're free from penalties. Rather, the appropriate penalties are more likely tied to the contractor's wallet. As alluded to above, a prime contractor must make payment to their subs within 14 days of receiving payment. Assuming the project is not a residential one, there are stiff penalties for a contractor who fails to abide by Louisiana's prompt payment laws. Specifically, when a contractor fails to make timely payment, the unpaid party is entitled to interest on that payment to the tune of 1.5% per day. However - this penalty caps out at 15%, so if payment is more than 10 days late, the penalty will not exceed 15%. Informing the non-paying contractor of the looming penalties will typically go a long way to make sure they provide payment. Sending something a little more formal like a demand letter for payment from an attorney or a Notice of Intent to Make Prompt Payment Claim could help compel payment. If these warnings are ignored, one option may be to make a prompt payment claim (which, as we discuss in this article, requires a lawsuit). If a lawsuit is required, Louisiana claimants may be awarded attorney fees, though. Of course, this is only one potential route - and sending a Notice of Intent to Lien, or actually filing a mechanics lien for the unpaid amounts, may be options. If filing a lien does become necessary, this article should help with that process: How to File a Louisiana Mechanics Lien.
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Sep 19, 2018
Hi, Matt gives a very good answer on this post. Often as a construction law attorney, I get calls from individuals who want contractors to get arrested for mishandling funds or downright stealing. Typically, due to lack of resources, criminal relief only happens in extreme circumstances. You can contact your local district attorney or even your local police department, but often times they will tell you it is a "civil" matter. As a civil construction attorney here in Louisiana there are a number of tools you can use to secure payment. Depending on your role in the project you have some options. Demand letters are a great place to start but often they are ignored. From there you can file a lien to protect your rights to payment. Finally, your last resort is to file a civil lawsuit to enforce your rights to payment. Filing a lawsuit against a party for non-payment is the only way to ensure payment. However, lawsuits come with the risk of being counter-sued or risk of paying high costs and attorneys fees for the potential of little to no return. You need to speak to a construction law attorney to weigh your options carefully before making a final decision.
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