Colorado Court of Appeals Finds Contractor Satisfied Conditions Precedent Under Performance Bond

Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. v Guar. Co. of N. Am. USA, 2019 BL 97923 (Colo. App. Mar. 21, 2019).

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Danielle J. Volpe

This construction dispute involved rights and obligations under a performance bond supplied for an office building construction project in Denver, Colorado.  Whiting-Turner Contracting Company was the general contractor, and it subcontracted Klempco Construction to construct an anchor system for the project’s underground parking garage.  Klempco provided performance and payment bonds for the project from Guarantee Company of North America USA (“GCNA”).  When Klempco fell behind schedule, it stopped paying its sub-subcontractors and directed Whiting-Turner to assume responsibility for its work and sub-subcontractors.

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When Surety Bond Incorporates the Subcontract by Reference, Is the Subcontract’s Arbitration Clause Also Incorporated? Federal Court in South Carolina Says Yes; Federal Court in Kansas Says No — In Two Matters Involving the Same Parties

Developers Sur. & Indem. Co. v. Carothers Constr., Inc., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111021 (D.S.C. July 18, 2017); Developers Sur. & Indem. Co. v. Carothers Constr., Inc., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135948 (D. Kan. Aug. 24, 2017)

Two recent decisions from United States District Courts for the District of South Carolina and the District of Kansas, respectively, reached opposite conclusions when presented with the same issue:  Is a surety bound to arbitrate claims against it when the surety’s bond incorporates its principal’s contract by reference, and the principal’s contract contains an agreement to arbitrate disputes.  The District of South Carolina, applying South Carolina law, held that a surety is bound by the arbitration agreement in the incorporated contract, while the District of Kansas held that a surety is not so bound.

These cases both arise from an arbitration demand filed by the general contractor, Carothers Construction, Inc. (“Carothers”) against the surety, Developers Surety and Indemnity Company (“DSI”).  DSI issued performance and payment bonds on behalf of subcontractors Liberty Enterprises Specialty Contractor (“Liberty”) and Seven Hills Construction, LLC (“Seven Hills”) in favor of Carothers for their work on Projects located in South Carolina and Kansas, respectively.  Each subcontractor defaulted on its contractual obligations.  Carothers initiated arbitration against DSI regarding both Projects.  According to Carothers, the bonds incorporated by reference the subcontracts’ mandatory arbitration clauses and thus, DSI was subject to binding arbitration.  In declaratory judgment actions before Federal District Courts in South Carolina and Kansas, DSI asked the courts to declare that the arbitration clause did not bind it to arbitrate Carothers’ claims.  Each court reached the directly opposite conclusion.  This article discusses the decision reached by each court in turn. Continue reading “When Surety Bond Incorporates the Subcontract by Reference, Is the Subcontract’s Arbitration Clause Also Incorporated? Federal Court in South Carolina Says Yes; Federal Court in Kansas Says No — In Two Matters Involving the Same Parties”

Federal Court in Nebraska Denies Surety’s Request for Preliminary Injunction Requiring Principal to Post Collateral Security, Finding No Irreparable Harm Absent Proof That Principal Was Insolvent or Secreting Assets

Allied World Specialty Ins. Co. v. Abat Lerew Constr., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61794 (D. Neb. Apr. 24, 2017)

 Abat Lerew Construction (“ALC”) entered into multiple construction projects which required it to obtain surety bonds guaranteeing its performance. ALC obtained the bonds from Allied World Specialty Insurance Company (“Allied”) and also entered into an indemnity agreement with Allied.  In that agreement ALC agreed to indemnify and hold Allied harmless from and against all liability and to deposit with Allied collateral in an amount determined by Allied to be sufficient to cover liability for any claims under the bonds.

During ALC’s performance of the bonded contracts, Allied received claims on the bonds in excess of $300,000. Invoking the terms of its indemnity agreement with ALC, Allied demanded that ALC post collateral security in the amount of $400,000 to cover liability for the claims.  ALC refused and Allied commenced an action seeking equitable relief requiring ALC to deposit the demanded collateral security.  Upon commencement of the litigation, Allied asked the court to issue a preliminary injunction requiring ALC to post the $400,000 security and restraining ALC from transferring assets.  Continue reading “Federal Court in Nebraska Denies Surety’s Request for Preliminary Injunction Requiring Principal to Post Collateral Security, Finding No Irreparable Harm Absent Proof That Principal Was Insolvent or Secreting Assets”