Federal Arbitration Act Preempts Florida State Statute Which Prohibits Out-of-State Resolution of Construction Claims Involving Florida Real Property

Sachse Constr. & Dev. Corp. v. Affirmed Drywall, Corp., 2018 Fla App. Lexis 9998 (July 18, 2018)

Sachse Construction, a Michigan-based general contractor, entered into a subcontract (the “Subcontract”) with Affirmed Drywall Corp. (“Affirmed”), a Florida drywall subcontractor, to perform work on a property in Florida.  The Subcontract provided that all disputes be resolved by mediation and/or arbitration in Southfield, Michigan, or within 20 miles thereof, pursuant to the Construction Industry Rules of the American Arbitration Association and in accordance with Michigan laws.  However, under Section 47.025 of the Florida Statutes, a venue provision in a contract involving a Florida-based contractor or subcontractor, etc., for the improvement of real property located in Florida is considered void as a matter of public policy if it requires that legal action be brought outside of Florida.

Affirmed filed an action in Florida state court alleging claims for breach of contract against Sachse and to recover against a bond naming Sachse and the surety on the bond.  Sachse moved to dismiss or to compel arbitration in Michigan in accordance with the dispute resolution provision in the Subcontract.  Sachse argued that the Subcontract involved interstate commerce, so the Federal Arbitration Act (the “FAA”) governed the Subcontract and preempted inconsistent state law.  Sachse claimed that Section 47.025 did not void the provision in the Subcontract mandating that disputes be resolved by arbitration in Michigan because of the FAA’s liberal policy favoring arbitration agreements.  The trial court disagreed, denied Sachse’s motion and ordered Sachse to answer the complaint.  Sachse appealed. Continue reading “Federal Arbitration Act Preempts Florida State Statute Which Prohibits Out-of-State Resolution of Construction Claims Involving Florida Real Property”

Use of the Word “in” Indicates Geography; Use of the Word “of” Indicates Sovereignty: Federal District Court in Maryland Holds That Venue Is Proper in Federal Court in Maryland Where Forum Selection Clause Requires Action to be Brought “In the District or County” Where the Prime Contractor Is Located

Pritchett Controls, Inc. v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 192182, 2017 WL 5591872 (D. Md. Nov. 21, 2017)

James W. Ancel, Inc. (“JWA”) was the prime contractor on a project for the Maryland Transit Authority in Baltimore.  JWA subcontracted a portion of the work to Pritchett Controls, Inc. (“Pritchett”).  The subcontract contained a forum selection clause requiring any disputes to be “brought in the District or County where Contractor’s  principal office is located….”  JWA’s principal office is located in Towson, Maryland, which sits in Baltimore County.

As required by Maryland’s Little Miller Act, JWA, as principal, executed a payment bond with Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co. (“Hartford”), as surety.  This case involves Pritchett’s claim against Hartford for payment under the bond.

While performing its work on the project, Pritchett submitted twelve (12) payment applications to JWA totaling $744,799.  It completed its work on March 16, 2017 but never received any payment for its work.  On May 11, 2017, Pritchett submitted a notice of claim to Hartford.  When that claim remained unpaid by July 25, 2017, Pritchett filed this action against Hartford in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. Continue reading “Use of the Word “in” Indicates Geography; Use of the Word “of” Indicates Sovereignty: Federal District Court in Maryland Holds That Venue Is Proper in Federal Court in Maryland Where Forum Selection Clause Requires Action to be Brought “In the District or County” Where the Prime Contractor Is Located”

Federal Court in California Rules That the Federal Arbitration Act Preempts California Statute That Requires Arbitrations Relating to California Construction Projects Take Place in California

Bell Prods. v. Hosp. Bldg. & Equip. Co., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9183 (ND of Cal. Jan. 23, 2017)

A Contractor, Hospital Building and Equipment Company (“HBE”) entered into a subcontract with a mechanical subcontractor, Bell Products, Inc. (“Bell”), on a design-build project for a California hospital.  Bell sued HBE, asserting that HBE’s plans and specifications were deficient and failed to meet requirements of the applicable regulatory agencies, resulting in 15 months of delay to the project.  Bell initially sued HBE in State Court.  However, the case was removed to federal court, and the federal court stayed the proceedings pending conclusion of arbitration.

The subcontract provided that:  all claims between HBE and Bell shall be decided by arbitration; the arbitration shall be per the Construction Industry Rules of the American Arbitration Association; the arbitration provisions shall be governed by the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) and “unless [HBE] requests the locale to be the place of the Project, the arbitration locale shall be St. Louis, Missouri.  Bell sought relief from the venue provision, based upon a California Statute, C.C.P. § 410.42(a)(1), which provides:

(a) The following provisions of a contract between the contractor and a subcontractor with principal offices in this state, for the construction of a public or private work of improvement in this state, shall be void and unenforceable:
(1) A provision which purports to require any dispute between the parties to be litigated, arbitrated, or otherwise determined outside this state.
Continue reading “Federal Court in California Rules That the Federal Arbitration Act Preempts California Statute That Requires Arbitrations Relating to California Construction Projects Take Place in California”