Martin Paving Co. v. United Pacific Ins. Co.

Decision Date02 December 1994
Docket NumberNo. 94-203,94-203
Parties19 Fla. L. Weekly D2536 MARTIN PAVING COMPANY, Appellant, v. UNITED PACIFIC INSURANCE COMPANY, etc., Appellees.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

Leslie King O'Neal, of Holland & Knight, Orlando, for appellant.

Clifford B. Shepard, III, and T. Grey Squires, of Killgore, Pearlman, Shepard & Stamp, P.A., Orlando, for appellees.


This is an appeal of a summary final judgment entered in favor of United Pacific Insurance Company ("United"), as surety, on a public construction payment bond. We reverse.

Appellant Martin Paving Company ("Martin"), a sub-subcontractor, supplied asphalt to D & M Paving Company ("D & M") from October 31, 1992 to November 23, 1992, in connection with a paving project at the intersection of U.S. 17-92 and Taylor Road in Volusia County, Florida. D & M was a subcontractor on the project for the general contractor, American Lighting & Signalization, Inc. ("American"). The work was commissioned by the State of Florida, Department of Transportation ("DOT"). United is the surety under a payment bond provided by American, the general contractor, in connection with the project. The bond, which guaranteed obligations totalling $237,320.80, provided in pertinent part:

NOW, THEREFORE, The condition of this obligation is such that if the above-bounden Principal [American] in all respects shall, comply with Section 255.05 and 337.13, Florida Statutes, and the terms and conditions of said Contract, and his obligations thereunder, including the proposal, project specifications, and plans for State Project, Job. No. 99005-3520 therein referred to and made a part thereof, and such alterations as may be made in said plans and specifications, as therein provided for; and, further, if such Contractor shall promptly make payment to all persons supplying labor, materials, equipment and supplies, used directly or indirectly by the Contractor or any Subcontractor(s) in the prosecution of the work provided in said Contract, and promptly shall pay all State Workmen's Compensation and Unemployment Compensation taxes incurred in the performance of the said Contract, and shall pay to the Department double any amount in money or property the Department may lose or be overcharged or otherwise defrauded of, by reason of any wrongful or criminal act of the Contractor, its agents or employees, then this obligation to be void; otherwise, to be and remain in full force and virtue in law.

Martin brought an action based on the bond against United in August 1993 to recover $18,719.22 it was allegedly owed under its agreement with D & M. Martin's one-count complaint did not reference section 255.05; rather, it alleged that the bond was a common law surety bond which had been breached by United. United's answer alleged that the bond was a statutory public construction bond and that Martin was precluded from recovering under the bond because it had failed to comply with the notice provisions of section 255.05(2). United also moved for summary judgment on this same basis.

In the course of the litigation, Martin established by affidavit that it had hired an agent, Construction Advocates, to handle compliance with the requirements of 255.05. Construction Advocates sent a Demand for Copy of Payment Bond to the DOT on November 9, 1992 requesting a copy of any payment or performance bonds that existed on the paving project. 1 DOT never responded. DOT was then contacted by telephone but represented that there was no bond on the project. Martin also searched the public records of Volusia County but no copy of the bond had been filed. Section 255.05(1), Florida Statutes, requires such filing of the bond if one exists on a project of this size. Martin did not learn that there was a bond until March 1993. Martin then immediately sent a notice of nonpayment to United, requesting payment on the bond.

Both below and on appeal, United principally contends that the 1980 amendment to section 255.05, which added subsection (4) 2 to the current statute, eliminated common law bonds, thus, as a matter of law, Martin's claim, which asserts a right to recover on a "common law" bond, cannot succeed. Secondarily, United contends that Martin is bound to comply with the notice requirements of subsection (2), even if DOT fails in its statutory obligation under section 255.05(1) to supply a certified copy of the bond on request, even if the principal fails in its statutory obligation under section 255.05(1) to record the bond, and even if the surety fails in its statutory obligation under section 255.05(1) to include essential information on the face of the bond, including the name and address of both the principal and the surety, and a description of the project. 3 We begin by rejecting United's principal contention that enactment of subsection (4) of 255.05 made a "dinosaur" of the concept of a common law bond and that, in light of the enactment of subsection (4), all "bonds obtained for public works projects" are statutory bonds regardless of form. United grounds its argument on the language in subparagraph (4) and on the fact that there have been no reported appellate decisions in Florida identifying a common law bond on a public project 4 since the enactment of subparagraph (4). As to the latter assertion, we can draw no such inference. To the contrary, it may well be that the 1980 amendments (specially when augmented by the 1988 amendment to 255.05) 5 have largely eliminated the need for the common law bond argument. See United Bonding Ins. Co. v. City of Holly Hill, 249 So.2d 720 (Fla. 1st DCA 1971).

Subparagraph (4) of section 255.05 is more narrow than United's reading of it. It does clearly communicate that, regardless of the form of the bond, the underlying payment provisions of all bonds furnished for public works projects described in subsection (1) of 255.05 will be construed and deemed statutory bond provisions. Nothing in this language can support the conclusion that common law bonds have ceased to exist in Florida, however. The term "common law bond" still means, as it always has meant, a bond whose protections exceed the minimum obligations imposed by statute. State, Dep't of Transp. v. Houdaille, 372 So.2d 1177, 1178 (Fla. 1st DCA 1979); see also Southwest Fla. Water Management Dist. v. Miller Constr. Co., 355 So.2d 1258, 1260 (Fla. 2d DCA 1978). The bond in this case is a "common law bond." Such a bond still may be subject to the notice and statute of limitations applicable to a statutory bond, however, because the statute provides that the payment provisions of any bond "furnished for public works contracts described in subsection (1)" of 255.05 (whether a "statutory" bond, due to the limited scope of its coverage, or a common law bond, due to broader coverage) is subject to the notice requirements and the time limitations in subparagraph (2).

Evidently, at one point the 1980 Florida legislature had considered the idea of making the form contained in subsection (3) of 255.05 a mandatory form to be used in all public works projects. Staff of Fla.H.Comm. on Governmental Operations, CS/HB 445, Committee Report (April 24, 1980). The idea was to standardize, limit and make more certain the scope of coverage under these bonds, thereby reducing premiums and ultimately creating savings for the state. This idea was met by objections from state agencies, who preferred to utilize their own forms and to fashion their own scope of coverage. Some insurers also preferred the form not be statutorily mandated in order to have some control over the form of the bond they issue. Staff of Fla.S.Comm. on Government Operations, SB 33, Staff Analysis (January 1980).

Although the mandatory form idea was dropped, the legislature decided to tackle the complaint voiced by sureties that the common law bond argument frequently left them without the benefits of subsection (2) and that, under the payment bond provisions of public works bonds they issued, they were sometimes unfairly saddled with payment long after their principal had received final payment and had disappeared. Staff of Fla.S.Comm. on Government Operations, SB 33, Staff Analysis (January 1980). The response of the legislature was to add subsection (4), imposing su...

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8 cases
  • American Home Assur. v. PLAZA MATERIALS
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • July 7, 2005
    ...of a common law bond to the requirements of subsection (2), as was suggested by the Fifth District in Martin Paving [v. United Pacific Insurance Co., 646 So.2d 268, 270 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994)], this language does not permit American Home to issue a bond in violation of subsection (6). If anyth......
  • Professional Plastering & Stucco, Inc. v. Bridgeport-Strasberg Joint Venture, Case No. 5D03-2572 (FL 1/28/2005), Case No. 5D03-2572.
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • January 28, 2005
    ...Heating Ser., Inc. v. Guymann Constr., Inc., 459 So. 2d 1103, 1105 (Fla. 2d DCA 1984)). See also Martin Paving Co. v. United Pacific Ins. Co., 646 So. 2d 268 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994) (discussing section 255.05, Florida Statutes, and holding that "the term `common law bond' still means, as it alw......
  • Insurance Co. of North America v. Metropolitan Dade County
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • October 29, 1997
    ...language in a number of areas that made the bond's coverage more expansive than a statutory bond. See Martin Paving Co. v. United Pacific Insurance Co., 646 So.2d 268 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994). Therefore, as provided in section 95.11(2)(b) Florida Statutes (1995) the proper limitations period for......
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • May 10, 2002
    ...standard DOT form contract bond to the requirements of the Act, were extensively discussed by Judge Griffin in Martin Paving Co. v. United Pacific Insurance Co., 646 So.2d 268 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994). The three bonds involved in this case, which are very similar to the bonds involved in Martin ......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Not all bonds are created equal: distinguishing a common law bond from a statutory bond.
    • United States
    • Florida Bar Journal Vol. 79 No. 2, February - February 2005
    • February 1, 2005
    ...some of its virility following the Fifth District Court of Appeal's holding in Martin Paving Company v. United Pacific Insurance Company, 646 So. 2d 268 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994). In Martin Paving, a sub-subcontractor brought an action against the surety for the general contractor under a public ......

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