United States of America et al v. Travelers Casualty and Surety Company
ORDER denying Defendant's 24 Motion to Stay. Signed by Judge Paul G. Byron on 10/15/2018. (SCM)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and
ARCHITECTURAL COATINGS, INC.,
Case No: 6:17-cv-1984-Orl-40TBS
TRAVELERS CASUALTY AND
This cause comes before the Court on Defendant’s Motion to Stay Proceedings
and Incorporated Memorandum of Law (Doc. 24), filed June 15, 2018. On June 28, 2018,
Plaintiff responded in opposition. (Doc. 25). Upon consideration, Defendant’s motion is
due to be denied.
Plaintiff initiated this suit on November 20, 2017, seeking recovery against
Defendant under the Miller Act, alleging that Defendant, as surety, failed to pay Plaintiff
for work it completed pursuant to a subcontract for a federal construction project. (Doc 1,
¶ 10). Defendant now moves to stay these proceedings so that it can “pursue and exhaust
procedures of the Contract Disputes Act,” as provided in the subcontract. (Doc. 24, p. 2).
Defendant argues that Plaintiff agreed to utilize these procedures “before commencing
any other action for claims it may have arising out of the performance of the work
hereunder . . . [and to] stay any action or claim . . . pending complete and final resolution
pursuant to the [Contract Disputes Act] procedures.” (Id. at p. 3 (quoting Article 17(b) from
the subcontract (Doc. 1-2, p. 12))).
District courts have broad discretion to stay proceedings. Clinton v. Jones,
520 U.S. 681, 706 (1997). Nevertheless, staying a matter is an extraordinary measure
that should only be employed to further the ends of justice and the district court should
resolve any doubts against issuing a stay. See Bank of Am., N.A. v. Sullivan, No. 8:13CV-385-T-17EAJ, 2013 WL 2285079, at *2 (M.D. Fla. May 23, 2013).
Defendant asks the Court to stay these proceedings pending completion of the
procedures of the Contract Disputes Act. (Doc. 24, p. 4). Defendant argues that Plaintiff
consented to stay this lawsuit through the terms of subcontract, and that a stay promotes
judicial economy and would not prejudice Plaintiff. (Id. at p. 6).
The Court finds, however, that these terms of the subcontract do not control the
“claim” at issue, and therefore, do not justify the extraordinary measure of staying this
litigation. See Sullivan, 2013 WL 2285079, at *2. Defendant argues that the Contract
Disputes Act language from Article 17(b) applies to Plaintiff’s claim. (Id.). However, the
Court finds that the language from Article 17(b) only applies to “claims” as defined by
Article 17(a). (Doc. 1-2, p. 12). Article 17(a) of the Subcontract states that “[t]he
Subcontractor agrees to make any claims to the Contractor for damages or additional
compensation based on alleged extra work, changed conditions or any other grounds in
the same manner as provided in the Contract Document . . . .” (Id.) (emphasis added). In
contrast, Plaintiff’s claim is for payment for the complete performance of “the work
provided for in the subcontract.” (Doc. 1, ¶ 12). Plaintiff has not made claims “for damages
or additional compensation based on alleged work, changed conditions or any other
grounds” as contemplated by Article 17(a). (Doc. 1-2, p. 12; Doc 25, p. 3). Therefore, the
Court finds that the language from Article 17(b) requiring exhaustion and completion of
the procedures from the Contracts Dispute Act does not apply to Plaintiff’s claim.
Accordingly, it is ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Defendant’s Motion to Stay
Proceedings and Incorporated Memorandum of Law (Doc. 24) is DENIED.
DONE AND ORDERED in Orlando, Florida on October 15, 2018.
Copies furnished to:
Counsel of Record
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