My company was hired by the Civil Engineer to provide an onsite Professional Engineer and a Certified Welding Inspector, (labor), at one of the city’s water tanks. The Engineer’s last invoice is quickly approaching the 90-day mark and is behind in payments. Am I able to file a Claim on the Bond?

Answered 2 months ago

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Matt Viator

Legal Associate Levelset

That's a great question. When a prime contractor secures a payment bond on a public project, the bond exists to protect the interests of the subcontractors and suppliers performing work under that prime contractor (be it directly or indirectly). So, in a situation where a design professional is hired directly by the public entity (rather than by the prime contractor or one of their subs), claims arising due to that design professional's failure to make payment generally won't fall under the prime contractor's bond liability. Regarding whether the public entity would require that an engineer be bonded - it's possible that a public entity may have required a design professional that they've hired directly to secure a bond for their work. In order to find out, a claimant could request a copy of the bond from the public entity who contracted the work - upon request, they're required to provide a copy of the bond(s) for the project. By asking that entity if the design professional is bonded (and asking for a copy of that bond, if so), a claimant can determine whether the work provided under the design professional is bonded. Of course, if no bond exists for that work, there are always other options for payment recovery (albeit less convenient ones). Making a demand for payment featuring specific legal threats (like a breach of contract claim) could work, especially when made via attorney letter. Or, making a claim in small claims court might be an option (depending on the size of the debt). And finally, while not necessarily a preferable option, taking a nonpaying party to court could always get the job done. Of course, before taking such an action, it's generally a good idea to try and talk the issue out with the nonpaying party to try and resolve the matter before it turns into a full blown dispute. Often, simple misunderstandings are the root cause of payment issues, and talking them out should be the first step of any recovery process. For more information on Florida bond claims, and for the text of the Florida Little Miller Act, this resource should help: Florida Public Project FAQs. Despite the title, this resource should be valuable to explore options outside of making a payment claim: Don’t Want to File a Mechanics Lien? Here Are 5 Other Options.

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