337.18 Surety bonds for construction or maintenance contracts; requirement with respect to contract award; bond requirements; defaults; damage assessments.—
(1)(a) A surety bond shall be required of the successful bidder in an amount equal to the awarded contract price. However, the department may choose, in its discretion and applicable only to multiyear maintenance contracts, to allow for incremental annual contract bonds that cumulatively total the full, awarded, multiyear contract price. For a project for which the contract price is $250,000 or less, the department may waive the requirement for all or a portion of a surety bond if it determines the project is of a noncritical nature and nonperformance will not endanger public health, safety, or property. If the Secretary of Transportation or the secretary’s designee determines that it is in the best interests of the department to reduce the bonding requirement for a project and that to do so will not endanger public health, safety, or property, the department may waive the requirement of a surety bond in an amount equal to the awarded contract price for a project having a contract price of $250 million or more and, in its place, may set a surety bond amount that is a portion of the total contract price and provide an alternate means of security for the balance of the contract amount that is not covered by the surety bond or provide for incremental surety bonding and provide an alternate means of security for the balance of the contract amount that is not covered by the surety bond. Such alternative means of security may include letters of credit, United States bonds and notes, parent company guarantees, and cash collateral. The department may require alternate means of security if a surety bond is waived. The surety on such bond shall be a surety company authorized to do business in the state. All bonds shall be payable to the department and conditioned for the prompt, faithful, and efficient performance of the contract according to plans and specifications and within the time period specified, and for the prompt payment of all persons defined in s. 713.01 furnishing labor, material, equipment, and supplies for work provided in the contract; however, whenever an improvement, demolition, or removal contract price is $25,000 or less, the security may, in the discretion of the bidder, be in the form of a cashier’s check, bank money order of any state or national bank, certified check, or postal money order. The department shall adopt rules to implement this subsection. Such rules shall include provisions under which the department shall refuse to accept bonds on contracts when a surety wrongfully fails or refuses to settle or provide a defense for claims or actions arising under a contract for which the surety previously furnished a bond.
(b) Before beginning any work under the contract, the contractor shall maintain a copy of the payment and performance bond required under this section at its principal place of business and at the job-site office, if one is established, and the contractor shall provide a copy of the payment and performance bond within 5 days after receiving a written request for the bond. A copy of the payment and performance bond required under this section may also be obtained directly from the department by making a request pursuant to chapter 119. A claimant has a right of action against the contractor and surety for the amount due him or her, including unpaid finance charges due under the claimant’s contract. The action may not involve the department in any expense.
(c) A claimant, except a laborer, who is not in privity with the contractor shall, before commencing or not later than 90 days after commencing to furnish labor, materials, or supplies for the prosecution of the work, furnish the contractor with a notice that he or she intends to look to the bond for protection. A claimant who is not in privity with the contractor and who has not received payment for his or her labor, materials, or supplies shall deliver to the contractor and to the surety written notice of the performance of the labor or delivery of the materials or supplies and of the nonpayment. The notice of nonpayment may be served at any time during the progress of the work or thereafter but not before 45 days after the first furnishing of labor, services, or materials, and not later than 90 days after the final furnishing of the labor, services, or materials by the claimant or, with respect to rental equipment, not later than 90 days after the date that the rental equipment was last on the job site available for use. An action by a claimant, except a laborer, who is not in privity with the contractor for the labor, materials, or supplies may not be instituted against the contractor or the surety unless both notices have been given. Notices required or permitted under this section may be served in any manner provided in s. 713.18.
(d) An action must be instituted by a claimant, whether in privity with the contractor or not, against the contractor or the surety on the payment bond or the payment provisions of a combined payment and performance bond within 365 days after the final acceptance of the contract work by the department. A claimant may not waive in advance his or her right to bring an action under the bond against the surety. In any action brought to enforce a claim against a payment bond under this section, the prevailing party is entitled to recover a reasonable fee for the services of his or her attorney for trial and appeal or for arbitration, in an amount to be determined by the court, which fee must be taxed as part of the prevailing party’s costs, as allowed in equitable actions.
(e) When a contractor has furnished a payment bond pursuant to this section, he or she may, when the department makes any payment to the contractor, serve a written demand on any claimant who is not in privity with the contractor for a written statement under oath of his or her account showing the nature of the labor or services performed to date, if any; the materials furnished; the materials to be furnished, if known; the amount paid on account to date; the amount due; and the amount to become due, if known, as of the date of the statement by the claimant. Any such demand to a claimant who is not in privity with the contractor must be served on the claimant at the address and to the attention of any person who is designated to receive the demand in the notice to the contractor served by the claimant. The failure or refusal to furnish the statement does not deprive the claimant of his or her rights under the bond if the demand is not served at the address of the claimant or directed to the attention of the person designated to receive the demand in the notice to contractor. The failure to furnish the statement within 60 days after the demand, or the furnishing of a false or fraudulent statement, deprives the claimant who fails to furnish the statement, or who furnishes the false or fraudulent statement, of his or her rights under the bond. If the contractor serves more than one demand for statement of account on a claimant and none of the information regarding the account has changed since the claimant’s last response to a demand, the failure or refusal to furnish such statement does not deprive the claimant of his or her rights under the bond. The negligent inclusion or omission of any information deprives the claimant of his or her rights under the bond to the extent that the contractor can demonstrate prejudice from such act or omission by the claimant. The failure to furnish a response to a demand for statement of account does not affect the validity of any claim on the bond being enforced in a lawsuit filed before the date the demand for statement of account is received by the claimant.
(f) The bonds provided for in this section are statutory bonds. The provisions of s. 255.05 are not applicable to bonds issued pursuant to this section.
(2) The department shall provide in its contracts for the determination of default on the part of any contractor for cause attributable to such contractor. The department shall have no liability for anticipated profits for unfinished work on a contract which has been determined to be in default. Every contract let by the department for the performance of work shall contain a provision for payment to the department by the contractor of liquidated damages due to failure of the contractor to complete the contract work within the time stipulated in the contract or within such additional time as may have been granted by the department. The contractual provision shall include a reasonable estimate of the damages that would be incurred by the department as a result of such failure. The department shall establish a schedule of daily liquidated damage charges, based on original contract amounts, for construction contracts entered into by the department, which schedule shall be incorporated by reference into the contract. The department shall update the schedule of liquidated damages at least once every 2 years, but no more often than once a year. The schedule shall, at a minimum, be based on the average construction, engineering, and inspection costs experienced by the department on contracts over the 2 preceding fiscal years. The schedule shall also include anticipated costs of project-related delays and inconveniences to the department and traveling public. Anticipated costs may include, but are not limited to, road user costs, a portion of the projected revenues that will be lost due to failure to timely open a project to revenue-producing traffic, costs resulting from retaining detours for an extended time, and other similar costs. Any such liquidated damages paid to the department shall be deposited to the credit of the fund from which payment for the work contracted was authorized.
(3) In addition to the provision for payment to the department by the contractor of liquidated damages due to the failure of the contractor to complete the project within the time stipulated in the contract or within such additional time as may have been granted by the department, the department may also recover from the contractor amounts paid by the department for damages suffered by third parties as a result of the contractor’s failure to complete the project within the time stipulated in the contract or within such additional time as may have been granted by the department, unless the failure to timely complete the project was caused by the department’s act or omission. However, nothing herein shall create a cause of action against the department, or against a contractor by an abutting property owner or business entity, where none has previously existed.
(4)(a) If the department determines and adequately documents that the timely completion of any project will provide a substantial benefit to the public health, safety, or welfare; will limit the disruptive effect of construction on the community; or is cost beneficial on a revenue-producing project, the contract for such project may provide for an incentive payment payable to the contractor for early completion of the project or critical phases of the work and for additional damages to be assessed against the contractor for the completion of the project or critical phases of the work in excess of the time specified. All contracts containing such provisions shall be approved by the head of the department or his or her designee. The amount of such incentive payment or such additional damages shall be established in the contract based on an analysis of the cost savings to the traveling public or revenue projections for a revenue-producing project. Any liquidated damages provided for under subsection (2) and any additional damages provided for under this subsection shall be payable to the department because of the contractor’s failure to complete the contract work within the time stipulated in the contract or within such additional time as may have been granted by the department.
(b) The department shall adopt rules to implement this subsection. Such rules shall include procedures and criteria for the selection of projects on which incentive payments and additional damages may be provided for by contract.
(5) Such bonds shall be subject to the additional obligation that the principal and surety executing the same shall be liable to the state in a civil action instituted by the department or any officer of the state authorized in such cases, for double any amount in money or property the state may lose or be overcharged or otherwise defrauded of, by reason of any wrongful or criminal act, if any, of the contractor, the contractor’s agent, or employees.
History.—s. 97, ch. 29965, 1955; s. 1, ch. 65-40; ss. 23, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 1, ch. 71-40; s. 2, ch. 78-316; s. 1, ch. 82-41; s. 23, ch. 83-218; s. 158, ch. 84-309; s. 29, ch. 85-180; s. 10, ch. 87-100; s. 2, ch. 88-281; s. 49, ch. 90-136; s. 121, ch. 92-152; s. 13, ch. 94-237; s. 967, ch. 95-148; s. 50, ch. 96-323; s. 3, ch. 98-105; s. 21, ch. 99-385; s. 14, ch. 2000-266; s. 44, ch. 2003-286; s. 5, ch. 2007-66; s. 34, ch. 2007-196; s. 8, ch. 2009-85.