Firm Successfully Defends Surety Client in Payment Bond Lawsuit
In a case tried before a Mecklenburg County Superior Court judge over a five-day span in February 2017, Matt Bouchard successfully defended one of the firm’s surety clients against a payment bond claim asserted by a first-tier subcontractor.
The subcontractor had claimed that it was owed nearly $500,000 from the project’s general contractor, including retainage, extra work claims, and delay damages, and it had sued both the general contractor and its bonding company to recover under the payment bond the surety had furnished for the project. The general contractor, represented by separate counsel, not only disputed the subcontractor’s claims; it also asserted counterclaims against the subcontractor for incomplete work, defective work, and delayed performance.
Matt’s role at trial consisted primarily of cross-examining all of the subcontractor’s witnesses in defense of the subcontractor’s affirmative claims against the general contractor and its surety. That allowed the general contractor’s counsel to focus on preparing his direct examinations and proving his client’s affirmative claims against the subcontractor. After the closing of the evidence, but before the trial court judge had reached his verdict, the judge invited counsel into his chambers to forecast how he was viewing the parties’ respective claims and defenses in light of the evidence he had just seen and heard. It became clear from this chambers conference that Matt had successfully discredited the subcontractor’s extra work and delay claims, that the judge was favoring the general contractor’s case, and that the subcontractor faced a substantial risk that a final judgment would enter netting the general contractor a six-figure sum on its counterclaims. The case settled shortly after the chambers conference, with the subcontractor agreeing to pay a small amount to the general contractor and to dismiss – in its entirety, and with prejudice – the payment bond claim it had filed against the firm’s surety client.