Wednesday, December 18, 2013

J.J. Shane, Inc. v. Aetna Cas. & Surety Co. case brief

J.J. Shane, Inc. v. Aetna Cas. & Surety Co. case brief summary
723 So.2d 302 (1998)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Plaintiff subcontractor appealed from a final judgment of the Dade County Circuit Court (Florida) ordering attorney's fees and costs pursuant to a jury verdict in favor of defendant general contractor.

CASE FACTS
Plaintiff subcontractor sued defendant general contractor after defendant failed to make complete payment for plaintiff's work on a project that had been commissioned by the county. It was undisputed that defendant had not yet been paid by the county. At issue was whether the subcontract agreement provided that payment from the county to defendant was a condition precedent to defendant paying plaintiff. Plaintiff argued that the payment provision was ambiguous and that defendant was required to pay within a reasonable time.

DISCUSSINO

  • The appellate court determined that the payment provision was clear and unambiguous and that the county's payment to defendant was a condition precedent to payment by defendant to plaintiff. 
  • However, the court also determined that where non-payment to defendant was undisputed, plaintiff's cause for payment by the subcontractor was prematurely filed. 
  • Therefore, the court reversed the final judgment and order awarding fees and costs with directions for dismissal without prejudice.

CONCLUSION
The final judgment and order awarding costs and attorney's fees was reversed because where the county's non-payment to defendant general contractor was undisputed, and the subcontract made such payment a condition precedent to plaintiff subcontractor's right to payment, plaintiff's cause for payment by defendant was prematurely filed.

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