Sub-Subcontractor Has No Direct Cause of Action against General Contractor or Landowner

F. Bender, Inc. v. Jos. L. Muscarelle, Inc., 700 A.2d 374, 304 N.J. Super. 282 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 1997)

In this case, the plaintiff sub-subcontractor sued the general contractor and property owner seeking to recover in quantum meruit for construction work on a parking facility.  The general contractor hired a sub-contractor to perform all of the concrete work who in turn hired the plaintiff.  The sub-contractor was eventually terminated for failure to adequately perform its subcontract agreement with the general contractor.  Plaintiff had no contract with the general contractor or the property owner but sued them for his losses nonetheless.  The court held that where the plaintiff sub-subcontractor had no contractual agreement with the defendants, recovery based upon quantum meruit was precluded.

In so holding, the court pointed out that the plaintiff was not without protection but that he had “failed to protect his rights by filing an appropriate mechanic’s lien” as provided by the Mechanic’s Lien Law.  The court also noted that the result of this opinion did not render the plaintiff helpless to recover but that recovery would properly come from action against the subcontractor.

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