The Cobb Law Group focuses on construction law including filing mechanics & materialmen’s liens, payment bond claims, contracting drafting, and construction litigation throughout the state including Thomson, Georgia and all of McDuffie County, Georgia. Many out-of-state subcontractors and suppliers rely upon our construction lawyers to help them understand Georgia’s complex lien and bond statutes. The following is a recent case study of a payment bond claim which we handled on behalf of our client in Thomson, Georgia which resulted in prompt payment, in full, to our client (please keep in mind that every legal scenario is unique and the results vary).
Background: Our client is a Florida business which fabricates and installs counter tops and accessories; they had been contractor to produce paneling, counter tops, backslashes and related items on a local government building being constructed in McDuffie County. As soon as our client was advised that it had been awarded the bid for the government building’s counter tops in the offices, the bathrooms, break rooms, etc., they contacted us to make certain that they complied with Georgia’s regulations for complying with the Little Miller Act.
Request for Notice of Commencement: When one of our construction lawyers began speaking with our out-of-state client, we had to make several, quick assessments. First, we needed to know whether they were the prime contractor, a subcontractor, a sub-subcontractor or a material supplier as well as the names and addresses of the parties upstream. They were, it turns out, a sub-subcontractor. Since our client did not have privity of contract with neither the project owner nor the general contractor, they would have to send a Notice to Owner and a Notice to Contractor to the respective parties within 30 days of the first day they began working on the public project pursuant to the Official Code of Georgia Section 36-91-93. Unfortunately, our client could not provide a copy of the Notice of Commencement in order for us to locate the addresses needed pursuant to the notice statutes so we began researching the real estate records of McDuffie County, GA to see if a recorded copy of the Notice of Commencement could be located–it couldn’t!
If a project owner (or prime contractor) does not file a proper Notice of Commencement, then third-tier contractors such as our counter top client do not have to send the Notices to Owner or the Notice to Contractor. However, just because we couldn’t “find” the recorded Notice of Commencement in the McDuffie County Clerk of Court’s records did not mean that one did not exist. Some Georgia counties, for example, experience a significant lag between the time a document is actually recorded in the clerk’s office and the time it takes for that same document do be available online. One way to confirm whether or not a Notice of Commencement has been filed is to send the general contractor a written request for a copy of it. We sent this request (via certified mail) to the project’s prime contractor. According to Georgia’s lien laws, the general contractor must supply a copy of the Notice of Commencement to anyone requesting the copy within ten days of the contractor’s receipt of the request. In this case study, the general contractor did not return a copy of the requested Notice of Commencement; consequently, our client no longer had the obligation to send the Notice to Owner or Notice to Contractor (sometimes called a Notice of Furnishing), and their right to file a lien (or, in this case, make a payment bond claim) was preserved.
Georgia Payment Bond Claim: Fortunately, our client had consulted with the Cobb Law Group to assess their obligations in order to preserve their right to make a payment bond claim because, in fact, our client did not received payment for the work which it performed on the public works project from the subcontractor it was working for. Thus, our client contacted us to make their claim against the contractor’s payment bond. Locating copies of public work project’s payment bonds can be difficult. Nonetheless, our construction paralegal began looking for information on the surety through various means including contact with the general contract, various offices of the McDuffie County, Georgia government, and online. We were able to find enough information in order to prepare our client’s payment bond claim but sending a copy of our initial claim to (i) the City of Thomson, Georgia, (ii) the McDuffie County, Georgia Board of Commissioners, (iii) the general contractor, and the (iv) surety.
Payment in Full: Within two weeks of receiving our claim against the payment bond on the local government project in McDuffie County, our client received payment in full from the general contractor and we were able to release the claim.
Analysis: Although the subcontractor with whom our client had contracted did not pay our client, our client (i) made sure that it took all of the steps necessary to make a payment bond claim if necessary, and (ii) it timely make the payment bond claim. Consequently, it expanded the odds of recovery greatly because the surety issued the payment bond promising payment to subcontractors and suppliers in the event they were not paid.
Unfortunately, not every payment bond claim results in prompt payment and payment in full so this case study may not be indicative of the validity of your claim against a payment bond; nonetheless, bond claims are a very useful and important tool for the subcontractor and supplier working on government contract jobs in Georgia as they make additional parties responsible for the value of the work, services and materials supplied.
Below, please find the contact information for the McDuffie County Clerk of Court for any questions you may have prior to contacting a lawyer (please note this information may change without notice) to assist you with making a claim of lien:
Clerk of Court’s Address:
McDuffie County Superior Court Clerk
ATTN: Materialmen’s Lien Filing Desk
210 Railroad Street, Room 1401
P.O. Box 158
Thomson, GA 30824
Clerk of Court’s Telephone Number:
echanic’s Lien Filing Fees:
$5.00 for the first page and $2.00 for each additional page
The information contained on this website is for information purposes only; you are directed to consult with your attorney regarding the risks involved in filing mechanics and materialmen’s liens as well as all other aspects of lien filing including, but not limited to proper forms, conditions precedent, legal descriptions, notice requirements, and the statutes of limitations. Nothing contained herein creates an attorney-client relationship between the Cobb Law Group and you. Furthermore, no warranties, expressed or implied, are provided for the data herein, its use or interpretation. Please contact us for further information.