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Does a potential claimant under a contract surety payment bond claim have a right to a copy of the bond?

TennesseeBond Claims

I work for a surety company that wrote a bond on a HUD financed housing project in TN. An attorney for a potential claimant has requested a copy of the payment bond.

1 reply

Jun 15, 2018
First, typically a claimant will be entitled to a copy of the payment bond where a payment bond is present for the resolution of claims. It makes sense - otherwise, a claimant would not have the information necessary to make their claim. However, the type of bond provided may determine how the information must be provided (and by whom it must be provided). For payment bonds secured for a public works project, the bonding information is typically provided to a claimant upon request by either the general contractor or the public awarding authority. In Tennessee, it does not appear that the state's Little Miller Act specifies who must provide bonding information. However, because a copy of the bond must be submitted to the public awarding authority, a claimant can likely obtain a copy of the bond (or at least the bonding information) from the public awarding authority. For a payment bond issued prior to the commencement of work on a Tennessee private project, the bond must be recorded in the office of the register of deeds of every county where the improvement is located. Thus, the bonding information is public - and a claimant can obtain that info via a public records search/request. Here, the Tennessee mechanics lien statute does not specify whether a surety must provide that information upon request. Finally, for a bond issued to discharge a filed mechanics lien, this bond must also be recorded with the register of deeds - so that bond information is public as well. Here, too, it does not appear to be the duty of the surety to provide bond information to the claimant.
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