A recent Miller Act payment bond decision out of the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S. f/u/b/o Civil Construction, LLC v. Hirani Engineering & Land Surveying, PC, 58 F.4th 1250 (D.C. Circ. 2023), dealt with the issue of whether a subcontractor’s superintendent constitutes recoverable “labor” within the meaning of the Miller Act and compensable as a cost under the Miller Act that typically views labor as on-site physical labor.
The issue is that the Miller Act covers “[e]very person that has furnished labor or material in carrying out work provided for in a contract.” Civil Construction, supra, at 1253 quoting 40 U.S.C. s. 3133(b)(1). The Miller Act does not define labor. The subcontractor claimed labor includes actual superintending at the job site. The surety disagreed that a superintendent’s presence on a job site constitutes labor as the superintendent has to actually perform physical labor on the job site to constitute compensable labor under the Miller Act.
The subcontractor argued its subcontract and the government’s quality control standards required detailed daily reports that verified manpower, equipment, and work performed at the job site. It further claimed its superintendent had to continuously supervise and inspect construction activities on-site: “[the] superintendent had to be on-site to account for, among other things, hours worked by crew members, usage and standby hours for each piece of equipment, materials delivered, weather throughout the day, and all work performed. These on-site responsibilities reflected the government’s quality control standards, under which the superintendent as ‘the most senior site manager at the project, is responsible for the overall construction activities at the site…includ[ing] all quality, workmanship, and production of crews and equipment.” Civil Construction, supra, at 1253-54.