Florida’s Little Miller Act is in place to protect subcontractors, suppliers, and laborers when providing labor or materials to a building or piece of land owned by a government agency. In public projects covered by the Little Miller Act, a prime contractor must post a performance bond and payment bond ensuring that they will complete their contractual duties and provide compensation to subcontractors, suppliers and laborers. If not, these individuals and businesses have the right to file a claim against the payment bond.
Because Little Miller Act claims have strict filing guidelines, our Lakeland construction lawyers have provided a step by step guide to how the process works.
Step 1. Determine Eligibility
All first and second tier sub-contractors, material providers, and laborers are covered under the Little Miller Act, but before filing a claim, you must first determine if the government project you provided service on was required to have payment bond. Before a government contract over $100,000 is awarded, both a payment bond and performance bond must be posted. In some cases, contracts under $100,000 may also be covered with a payment bond. To determine if the project was bonded, you can submit an inquiry to the government agency that issued the contract. The head of the governing agency is also responsible for supplying a certified copy of the payment bond for your records.
Step 2. Deliver Preliminary Notice to Prime Contractor
The first step of seeking Little Miller Act protection is by sending a preliminary notice to the prime contractor. This notification of “intent to look to the bond for protection” is required by all subcontractors, suppliers, and laborers not in direct contract with the prime contractor within 45 days after the first furnishing of materials or labor.
Step 3. Provide Final Notice to Prime Contractor
If you are yet to receive payment after completing the project, you have 90 days from the last furnishing of material or labor to submit the final notice to the prime contractor. This timeline, again, relates to subcontractors, suppliers, and laborers not in direct contract with the prime contractor.
While contractors in direct contract are not required to submit notification to the prime contractor or the surety bond provider, it is good practice to provide a notice of the intent to file a claim on the bond.
Step 4. File Claim
The lawsuit to receive compensation from the Little Miller Act bond must be instituted within one year after the final furnishing of labor or materials. However, there are certain provisions that must be met as defined in Florida Statute 255.05, so consult with a Lakeland construction lawyer to see if an action can be taken at that time.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.