Dear YouDig?

By John Swansinger, Partner in the Real Estate and Construction Practice Group at
Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs

Dear YouDig?,

As an excavating contractor, we clear sites for construction. Naturally, we are usually the first subcontractor on the job, working hard to clear, cut and level to get the site right.  Unfortunately, the general contractor often forgets about us once we finish and leaves us to wait for payment. Guess what, we just finished clearing (practically a Redwood Forest) for a fancy new nursing home and submitted our final pay application in due course. You guessed it… NO DOUGH. The GC has gone radio silent. We know we can file a lien and we have a contract, but those claims take time and my superintendent wants to run a feller buncher into the GC’s swanky lobby NOW. What can we do?
– Stiffed Again
Dear Stiffed,
Careful with the old school tactics, Stiff, but running a feller buncher into the lobby of the GC’s office would sure send a clear message about your feelings. So wrong, but feels so right. Actually, your super is right: a clear message must be delivered. Sure, you have lien rights and a contract, but we all know about the slow wheels of justice. Perhaps the legal equivalent of the feller-buncher-through-the-lobby theory are the punitive remedies under Ohio’s Prompt Payment Act (PPA). Under the PPA, if the Owner pays the GC for your undisputed completed work, the GC MUST pay you for your undisputed completed work within 10 days. If he fails, you have a claim. If you win, you get 18% interest on your claim. If you end up in court you may also get an award for attorneys’ fees and court costs. Once 10 days pass, remind your GC in writing of the PPA. Still NO DOUGH? Well it can get very expensive for the GC quickly. YouDig?