Justia Michigan Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Government Contracts
Wyandotte Electric Supply Co. v. Electrical Technology Systems, Inc.
In 2009 and 2010, the south wing of the Detroit Public Library was renovated. Defendant KEO & Associates, Inc. (KEO) was the principal contractor for this project. Defendant Westfield Insurance Company supplied KEO with a payment bond worth $1.3 million, as required by the public works bond act (PWBA). KEO was identified as the principal contractor and Westfield as the surety on the bond. KEO subcontracted with defendant Electrical Technology Systems, Inc. (ETS) to provide labor and materials for electrical work. The agreement between KEO and ETS included a pay-if-paid clause, obliging KEO to pay ETS only after KEO had been paid for the relevant portion of work performed. ETS in turn subcontracted with Wyandotte Electric Supply Company for materials and supplies, making Wyandotte a sub-subcontractor from KEO’s perspective. ETS and Wyandotte first formed a relationship in 2003, when they entered into an “open account” agreement that governed ETS’s purchases from Wyandotte. Over the course of the project, ETS paid Wyandotte only sporadically and the unpaid balance grew. Initially, Wyandotte supplied materials on credit and credited ETS’s payments to the oldest outstanding balance, but eventually Wyandotte began to ship materials only for cash on delivery. Wyandotte sent certified letters to KEO and Westfield asking for a copy of the payment bond related to the library renovation project. The letter, on Wyandotte’s letterhead, referred to the “Detroit Public Library South Wing with [ETS.]” According to Wyandotte, KEO provided a copy of the payment bond the next day. Wyandotte also sent KEO a 30-day “Notice of Furnishing” in accordance with MCL 129.207, explaining that it was one of ETS’s suppliers. Wyandotte also sent copies of the letter to Westfield, the library, and ETS. The issue this case presented for the Supreme Court's revie centered on whether actual notice was required for a sub-subcontractor to recover on a payment bond when that sub-subcontractor complied with the notice requirements set forth in MCL 129.207. Furthermore, this case raised the question of whether a PWBA claimant could recover a time-price differential and attorney fees that were provided for by the claimant’s contract with a subcontractor, but were unknown to the principal contractor holding the payment bond as well as the principal’s surety. The Supreme Court concluded that the PWBA contained no actual notice requirement for claimants that comply with the statute, that the trial court properly awarded a time-price differential and attorney fees on past-due invoices to Wyandotte, and that the trial court erred in awarding postjudgment interest under MCL 600.6013(7). Accordingly, the Court affirmed the Court of Appeals with regard to the first two issues and reversed with regard to the third. View "Wyandotte Electric Supply Co. v. Electrical Technology Systems, Inc." on Justia Law
Cedroni Associates, Inc. v. Tomblinson, Harburn Associates, Architects & Planners, Inc.
Plaintiff Cedroni Associates, Inc. was the lowest bidder on a public contract. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether Plaintiff had a valid business expectancy for the purpose of sustaining a claim of tortious interference with business expectancy. The trial court held that Plaintiff did not have such an expectancy, but a divided appellate court held that a genuine issue of material fact existed in that regard. Because the Supreme Court agreed with the trial court and the Court of Appeals dissent that Plaintiff did not have a valid business expectancy, the Supreme Court reversed the appellate court's judgment and reinstated the trial court's order granting Defendant's motion for summary judgment. View "Cedroni Associates, Inc. v. Tomblinson, Harburn Associates, Architects & Planners, Inc." on Justia Law
Loweke v. Ann Arbor Ceiling & Partition, Co., LLC
Plaintiff Richard Loweke was an employee of an electrical subcontractor. Defendant Ann Arbor Ceiling & Partition Company was also a subcontractor. Both parties were hired for work on a construction project at the Detroit Metro Airport. Plaintiff was injured at the site when several cement boards fell on him. Defendant's employees placed the boards against the wall. Plaintiff sued Defendant for negligence. Defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that it owed Plaintiff no duty that was "separate and distinct" from the contractual duties it owed to the general contractor. The trial court granted Defendant's motion, and the appellate court affirmed the trial court. On appeal to the Supreme Court, Plaintiff argued that Defendant had a common-law duty to avoid physical harm to others from its own actions. Upon consideration of the parties' briefs and the applicable legal authority, the Supreme Court reversed the lower courts' decisions. The Court found that the trial and appeals courts misinterpreted Michigan law with respect to "duty." The Court held that the assumption of contractual obligations does not limit the common law tort duties owed to others in the performance of the contract. The Court remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Loweke v. Ann Arbor Ceiling & Partition, Co., LLC" on Justia Law