ILNews

Surety not obligated to pay bond to subcontractor

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A company that was subcontracted by another subcontractor for work on a plant construction project won’t be paid from a payment bond the subcontractor obtained because of a pay-if-paid clause in subcontractors’ contract.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals had to figure out if the District Court was correct in finding that the language contained in the contract subcontractor Industrial Power Systems entered into with BMD Contractors contained a pay-if-paid clause instead of a pay-when-paid clause. Industrial Power was hired by Walbridge Aldinger, the general contractor on a plant manufacturing project. Industrial Power in turn hired BMD. Industrial Power also executed a payment bond with Fidelity and Deposit Company of Maryland, making Fidelity a surety for Industrial Power’s payment obligations to BMD.

The manufacturer eventually went bankrupt and was unable to pay Walbridge, which in turn was unable to pay Industrial Power, leaving it unable to pay BMD. BMD and Ferguson Enterprises, which provided supplies to BMD, tried to recover the rest of what they were owed from the bond. Fidelity refused payment and BMD filed suit.

The 7th Circuit affirmed in BMD Contractors Inc. v. Fidelity and Deposit Company of Maryland, No. 11-1345, finding the contract between Industrial Power and BMD expressly provides that Industrial Power’s receipt of payment is a condition precedent to its obligation to pay BMD. This issue raised in the instant case hasn’t expressly been ruled on by Indiana’s Supreme Court.

Judge Diane Sykes pointed out that Indiana surety law is quite clear on two points: sureties are generally liable only where the principal itself is liable; and concurrently executed bonds and the contracts they secure are construed together.

“These surety-law principles firmly support Fidelity’s position that it cannot be liable under the payment bond if Industrial Power is not liable under the subcontract. Although there are no Indiana cases applying these general principles in this particular context, courts in other jurisdictions have done so,” she wrote.

The trend of recent caselaw supports the basic principle of Indiana law that a surety may assert all the defenses of its principal. Fidelity, no less than Industrial Power, may rely on the pay-if-paid clause in the Industrial Power/BMD subcontract to defend against this suit on the payment bond, Sykes wrote.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

ADVERTISEMENT