This matter stemmed from a public works project for the construction of a gymnasium in Terrytown. JaRoy Construction Inc. served as the general contractor, and pursuant to statute, furnished a surety bond to Jefferson Parish. Ohio Casualty Insurance Company was the surety. JaRoy entered into a written subcontract with Pierce Foundations, Inc. to provide and install pilings for the project. Once finished, Pierce alleged JaRoy failed to pay certain funds due under the subcontract. Pierce sued both JaRoy and Ohio Casualty Insurance, alleging they were jointly and severally liable to Pierce. JaRoy filed for bankruptcy, leaving only Ohio Casualty Insurance as party to the suit. When the project was substantially completed, the Jefferson Parish government filed a notice of acceptance of work with the Jefferson Parish mortgage records office. This occurred over a year after Pierce amended its lawsuit to add Ohio Casualty as a defendant. Pierce never filed a sworn statement of claim in the mortgage records. Ohio Casualty filed a motion for summary judgment, contending that Pierce was required to comply with statutory notice and recordation, and because it failed to do so within 45 days of Jefferson Parish’s acceptance of the project, Pierce could not recover from Ohio Casualty. Pierce argued that the statute did not affect its right to proceed in contract. After a bench trial, the trial court rendered judgment in favor of Pierce for sums owed under the contract plus judicial interest from the date of the original judgment. Ohio Casualty appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in not dismissing Pierce's claims. The court of appeal reversed and ruled in Ohio Casualty's favor. The Supreme Court, however, disagreed and affirmed the trial court judgment. View "Pierce Foundations, Inc. v. JaRoy Construction, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Construction Law, Contracts, Government Contracts, Insurance Law, Louisiana Supreme Court
Louisiana Division of Administration, Office of Facility Planning & Control v. Infinity Surety Agency, LLC
The State, through its Division of Administration, Office of Facility Planning & Control, (State), issued a project manual to solicit bids for the removal and replacement of cabins at Bayou Segnette State Park. The manual included a bid form that set the procedure and conditions for submitting bids for the project. A joint venture of several companies submitted the lowest bid. Respondent Infinity Surety Agency (Infinity) wrote the bid-bond to the joint venture's winning bid. The State would later discover that Infinity was not qualified to write surety bonds on public works projects. The State notified the joint venture and Infinity that its bid was forfeited, and it rebid the entire project at a higher price. The State subsequently sued the joint venture and Infinity for the difference between its bid and the total of the rebid. The joint venture and Infinity filed peremptory exceptions of "no cause of action," alleging that the State's petition failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Respondents argued that the State should have rejected their bid, rather than incur damages when it found the surety bond was deficient. The trial court found that the bid was "non-responsive" and should not have been accepted by the State. The appellate court agreed, holding that the State should have been more careful when reviewing bids. The Supreme Court found that Respondents' exceptions should have been overruled. "Rather than focusing on the allegations in the petition, both courts below apparently made a factual determination that [the joint venture's] bid was non-responsive... and then based their rulings sustaining the exceptions on that determination." The Court concluded that using the exceptions to dismiss the State's claims was improper. Accordingly it reversed the holdings of the lower courts and remanded the case for further proceedings.