In a recent case in California, the Court of Appeals held that a surety who had issued a public works payment bond cannot rely on the “Pay-When-Paid” provision in the subcontract as a defense against the subcontractor’s claim against the payment bond. The case was a public works project in Kern County, CA where the North Edwards Water District (the “District”) hired Clark Bros., Inc. (“Clark”) as the general contractor to build an arsenic removal water treatment plant. Clark hired subcontractor Crosno Construction (“Crosno”) to build and coat two steel reservoir tanks. The subcontract included the following “pay-when-paid” provision, which provided a definition of “reasonable time”:
If the Owner or other responsible party delays in making any payment to the Contractor from which payment to Subcontractor is made, Contractor and its sureties shall have a reasonable time to make payment. “Reasonable time” shall be determined according to the relevant circumstances, but in no event shall be less than the time Contractor and Subcontractor require to pursue to conclusion their legal remedies against the Owner or other responsible party to obtain payment, including (but not limited to) mechanics lien remedies. (emphasis added).