Contractor wins motion for summary judgment

By Charmaine Little | May 16, 2018

ORLANDO -- A Florida contractor was granted its request against a former partner, according to a May 7 opinion of the U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Florida Orlando Division.

Defendant Archer Western Contractors, LLC was hired by the Florida Department of Transportation to help with the construction of the Central Florida Commuter Rail Transit Station Project (Sunrail Project). Archer then went into partnership with Prince Land Services Inc., whose responsibilities were to do landscaping and irrigation for the Sunrail Project. 

Developer Surety and Indemnity Company (DSIC), the plaintiff, operated as surety when it provided a subcontractor performance bond with Prince named as a subcontractor and DSIC as surety, and Archer as obligee.

The working relationship went awry after Prince allegedly defaulted on the subcontract.  DSIC requested a declaratory judgment that Archer violated the bond agreement when it hired another subcontractor to replace Prince. 

DSIC and Archer filed a motion for summary judgment after Archer filed a counterclaim and stated DSIC was the party to breach the bond agreement, that Archer was justified in hiring a replacement contractor, and that DSIC is responsible to pay Archer the cost of remediating Prince’s default. It also stated DSIC owes Archer $631,148.65 plus fees and cost.

The district court denied DSIC’s motion for summary judgment. It stated Archer did not violate the bond when it replaced Prince amid its default. The court pointed out the company’s actions during DSIC’s notice that Prince was in default stopped DSIC from moving forward with settling Prince’s default. The district court pointed out that hiring the replacement company was a good move as DSIC was unable to solve Prince’s default status.

The district court also ruled Archer didn’t breach the bond when it didn’t provide DSIC with information to prove Prince’s claimed breach. Considering this, the court denied DSIC’s motion for summary judgment.

The court then granted Archer’s motion concerning its counterclaims in requesting a declaratory judgement that DSIC breached the bond, as well as claims the company is responsible for the costs of remediating Prince’s default.

It found DSIC is responsible to Archer through the terms of the bond and subcontract. “Archer acted in accordance with the subcontract and the bond at every stage, while DSIC’s conduct breached the bond,” the court ruled.

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