Originally Published by CDJ on January 5, 2017
A performance bond is a valuable tool designed to guarantee the performance of the principal of the contract made part of the bond. But, it is only a valuable tool if the obligee (entity the bond is designed to benefit) understands that it needs to properly trigger the performance bond if it is looking to the bond (surety) to remedy and pay for a contractual default. If the performance bond is not properly triggered and a suit is brought upon the bond then the obligee could be the one materially breaching the terms of the bond. This means the obligee has no recourse under the performance bond. This is a huge downside when the obligee wanted the security of the performance bond, and reimbursed the bond principal for the premium of the bond, in order to address and remediate a default under the underlying contract.
A recent example of this downside can be found in the Southern District of Florida’s decision in Arch Ins. Co. v. John Moriarty & Associates of Florida, Inc., 2016 WL 7324144 (S.D.Fla. 2016). Here, a general contractor sued a subcontractor’s performance bond surety for an approximate $1M cost overrun associated with the performance of the subcontractor’s subcontract (the contract made part of the subcontractor’s performance bond). The surety moved for summary judgment arguing that the general contractor failed to property trigger the performance bond and, therefore, materially breached the bond. The trial court granted the summary judgment in favor of the performance bond surety. Why?