Federal Miller Act Rights Trump State Statute Precluding Claims by Non-Licensed Contractors

Westlaw Journal

Authored Article


In a recent decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held, for the first time, that California’s contractor licensing requirement cannot be used to bar a federal subcontractor from pursuing a claim under the Miller Act, 40 U.S.C. § 3131, for payment in connection with a federal government contract. In reversing the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant prime contractor and its surety, the 9th Circuit joined the 10th and 8th circuits and the U.S. Supreme Court in holding “that rights and remedies under the Miller Act may not be conditioned by state law.” Technica LLC ex rel. United States v. Carolina Cas. Ins. Co., 749 F.3d 1149 (9th Cir. Apr. 29, 2014). The 9th Circuit’s decision is noteworthy because it provides much-needed clarity regarding the rights and defenses available to federal contractors and their sureties in the context of Miller Act suits.

Republished with permission. This article first appeared in the Westlaw Journal, Volume 28, Issue 5, 2014. 

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