Court holds Surety has Common Law Claim for Indemnity Against Subcontractor, Despite Absence of Privity

J.C. Gibson Plastering Co. v. XL Specialty Ins. Co., 2008 WL 1931348 (M.D. Fla. May 2, 2008)

In J.C. Gibson Plastering, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida held that a surety could state a claim for common law indemnity against a subcontractor despite the absence of privity.  The court found that the two elements necessary to state a claim for common law indemnity were satisfied:  (i) the surety may be constructively, vicariously or derivatively liable for the subcontractor’s failure to pay sub-subcontractors, and (ii) the surety was without fault in causing the loss it was required to bear, despite failing to timely respond to the claim.

Also, despite the lack of Florida authority on the question, the court also held that a surety’s failure to respond to the subcontractor’s claim for payment under a payment bond within forty-five days (as required under the bond) barred the surety from challenging the claim or from asserting counterclaims to the extent the surety could have reasonably identified the bases of its affirmative defenses or counterclaims’ during the forty-five day period.  By failing to respond timely, the claim was undisputed and subject to summary judgment.

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