Client Owed Money on Two Public Works Projects: General contractor denies receipt of payment from owner, subsequently pays amount owed plus additional attorneys’ fees

We represented the plaintiff, a concrete subcontractor, who had completed work on two public works projects for the defendant, a general contractor. The amount owed by the general contractor totaled $95,448. Our client was forced to sue the general contractor and its bonding company for payment.

The defendant initially admitted that our client had completed work totaling $61,791, but claimed that it did not owe the full amount because it had not yet received full payment from the owner municipality.

(The parties had a “pay-when-paid” provision in their contract which provided that payment for a subcontractor’s work was not due until payment was made by the owner.) In order to compel payment of the undisputed amount, we filed a motion for partial summary judgment. During oral argument, the defendant claimed that it had only received $28,732 from the owner-municipality, and was still awaiting receipt of the final payment. Based on the defendant’s representations, the court issued an order directing immediate payment to our client of $28,732. The court also invited our client to renew its motion after final payment was made by the owner-municipality.

We subsequently learned through discovery that the defendant, in fact, had received full payment from the owner-municipality several months earlier. Because it appeared the defendant had lied to the court about not receiving full payment, we filed a motion requesting that sanctions be entered against the defendant. Just before the court was scheduled to rule on our motion for sanctions, the defendant agreed to pay substantially all of the amount in controversy, plus an additional $8,000 for our client’s attorneys’ fees.

The information contained in this article should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any matter discussed. The contents are intended for general information purposes only. Always consult a qualified attorney for legal advice on a specific matter.