When working on federal public works construction projects there are no Stop Payment Notice or Mechanics Lien remedies available to protect subcontractors’ and suppliers’ right to payment. Instead, unpaid subcontractors and suppliers must resort to making a claim for payment under a federal law known as the AMiller Act@ (40 USCS 3131 et seq.). Many claimants however, do not realize that the right to make a Miller Act claim is not available to all subcontractors and suppliers. Before committing to performing work on a federal project it is important for subcontractors and suppliers to understand whether or not a Miller Act claim will be available. For those who have no Miller Act rights, careful consideration must be given to whether it is worth the risk to take on the project. For those who have valid Miller Act claim rights, important deadlines must be considered.
Who Gets Paid Under a Miller Act and Who Does Not
For federal projects in excess of $100,000, contractors who have a contract directly with the Federal Government must obtain Miller Act Payment Bond intended for the protection of Subcontractors, laborers and material suppliers to the project.
As a general rule, every subcontractor, laborer, or material supplier who deals directly with the prime contractor and is unpaid may bring a lawsuit for payment against the Miller Act Payment Bond. Further, every unpaid subcontractor, laborer, or material supplier who has a direct contractual relationship with a first-tier subcontractor may bring such an action. The deadlines for these claims are described below.