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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Concurrent Delay: Surety—Standing in the Shoes of Subcontractor—Is Barred From Asserting Defense of Concurrent Delay Because Subcontractor Failed to Seek a Time Extension as Required by the Subcontracts

Fid. & Deposit Co. of Md. v. Travelers Cas. & Sur. Co. of Am., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162265 (D. Nev., September 21, 2018)

Clark County School District (“CCSD”) hired Big Town Mechanical (“Big Town”) as general contractor to perform HVAC upgrades at five schools.  Big Town in turn hired F.A.S.T. Systems (“FAST”) to complete low-voltage work at the schools.  Big Town obtained performance bonds from Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America (“Travelers”) and FAST obtained performance bonds from Fidelity & Deposit Company of Maryland (“F&D”).

Following FAST’s default on its subcontracts, F&D opted to complete FAST’s work and hired a substitute subcontractor, Perini.  In May 2012, Perini notified Big Town that it had “substantially completed” all of FAST’s work.  After Big Town refused payment, F&D filed suit against Big Town and Travelers in early 2013.  In May of 2013, CCSD rejected Big Town’s final payment application, stating that the project was incomplete and claiming there were significant defects in the work.  CCSD then sued Travelers seeking specific performance and liquidated damages for delay.  Travelers eventually settled CCSD’s suit but through its counterclaim sought reimbursement from F&D for its settlement plus costs expended to complete the project. Continue reading “Concurrent Delay: Surety—Standing in the Shoes of Subcontractor—Is Barred From Asserting Defense of Concurrent Delay Because Subcontractor Failed to Seek a Time Extension as Required by the Subcontracts”

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”