When a contractor is defaulted under a performance bond, can its surety hire the same defaulted contractor to complete the work? Stated differently, can the performance bond surety engage its defaulted bond-principal in taking over and completing the same work the contractor was defaulted under? The answer is “yes” if you are dealing with a standard form AIA A312 performance bond (and other bond forms that contain analogous language), as demonstrated by the recent decision in Seawatch at Marathon Condominium Association, Inc. v. The Guarantee Company of North America, 2019 WL 4850194 (Fla. 3d DCA 2019).
In this case, a condominium association hired a contractor in a multi-million dollar contract to renovate condominium buildings. The contractor provided the association, as the obligee, a performance bond written on an AIA A312 performance bond form. During construction, the association declared the contractor in default and terminated the contractor. In doing so, the association demanded that the performance bond surety make an election under paragraph 4 of the AIA A312 bond form that gave the surety the following options:
4.1 Arrange for the CONTRACTOR, with consent of the OWNER, to perform and complete the Contract; or
4.2 Undertake to perform and complete the Contract itself, through its agents or through independent contractors; or
4.3 Obtain bids or negotiated proposals from qualified contractors acceptable to the OWNER for a contract for performance and completion of the Contract, arrange for a contract to be prepared for execution by the OWNER and the contractor selected with the OWNER’S concurrence, to be secured with performance and payment bonds executed by a qualified surety equivalent to the Bonds Issued on the Contract, and pay to the OWNER the amount of damages as described in paragraph 6 in excess of the Balance of the Contract Price incurred by the OWNER resulting from the CONTRACTOR Default; or