Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. CCB, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

August 25, 2016

UNITED STATES for the USE and BENEFIT of METRIC ELECTRIC, INC.,
v.
CCB, INC. and THE HANOVER INSURANCE COMPANY,
v.
BRIAN SAMPSON

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON CCB, INC.'S and THE HANOVER INSURANCE COMPANY'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          RICHARD G. STEARNS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Metric Electric, Inc., (Metric) is suing federal contractor CCB, Inc., and its surety, The Hanover Insurance Company (Hanover), for allegedly terminating a subcontract “without cause.” In the alternative, Metric seeks payment of “the pro rata share for its work performed to date.” Pl.'s Opp'n at 1. CCB now moves for summary judgment, contending that Metric's breach of one or more material conditions of the contract forfeited any recovery at law, and that the ethical lapses of its owner (Brian Sampson) preclude any recovery in quantum meruit. Moreover, CCB argues that Metric has no actionable claim under the Miller Act, 40 U.S.C. § 3133, given the absence of an enforceable contact.[1]

         Background

         The material facts, in the light most favorable to Metric, as the nonmoving party, are as follows. CCB, the prime contractor, entered into an agreement with the General Services Administration (GSA) to renovate the John F. Kennedy Federal Building at Government Center in Boston (the Project). CCB brought in Hanover as the required surety. On December 2, 2013, CCB hired Metric to perform electrical work for the Project. The value of Metric's subcontract was $1, 380, 301, with the work to be completed in four phases.[2]

         The Subcontract required Metric to submit certified payroll reports and to pay the “prevailing wage” to its employees on a weekly basis, as required by the Davis-Bacon Act, 40 U.S.C. § 3141, et seq, and the Massachusetts Wage Act, Mass. Gen. Laws. Ch. 149, § 148.[3] From December 21, 2013, through April 26, 2014, Sampson, the owner of Metric, signed weekly reports, under oath, certifying that Metric had paid its employees in full for the work performed the prior week on the Project.[4] Despite the certifications, it is undisputed that Metric failed to pay wages to its employees during the first quarter of 2014.[5]

         In March of 2014, Metric's six employees brought a lawsuit for unpaid wages in Essex Superior Court. On April 6, 2016, a Superior Court Justice entered summary judgment for the employees. See Quigley, et al. v. Metric Electric, Inc., Essex Cty. Sup. Ct. Dep't, No. 1477-CV-00369 (Apr 6, 2016). When it learned of the judgment, CCB advanced funds to Metric to pay its employees' back wages. Metric did not do so, however, until July 9, 2014. On April 23, 2014, Metric's employees quit work on the Project.

         On May 5, 2014, CCB met with Sampson to express concern over “Metric's ability to provide ample manpower to meet the schedule requirements for the project.”[6] Defs.' Ex. 18 at 2. Following the meeting, Sampson briefly engaged an apprentice electrician to work with him on the Project. On May 16, 2014, CCB sent Sampson a notice declaring Metric in breach of its duty under the Subcontract to meet the required schedule and setting out in detail the work that remained uncompleted.[7] Defs.' Ex. 19 at 1. Metric abandoned the job altogether on May 30, 2014.

         On June 10, 2014, CCB formally terminated the Subcontract, citing unpaid wages and failure to timely perform. CCB then hired a replacement subcontractor to complete the electrical work.[8] At the time of termination, Metric had completed only 75% of the work on Phase I and 44% of the work on the entire job. CCB had paid Metric $499, 498.30 for work that had been done.

         On May 29, 2015, Metric brought this Complaint in the federal district court against CCB and Hanover, alleging breach of contract (Count I), quantum meruit (Count II), violation of the Miller Act (Count III), and violation of the Massachusetts Unfair Business Practices Act, Gen. Laws ch. 93A, §§ 2 and 11 (Count IV). CCB answered the Complaint and filed two counterclaims against Metric alleging breach of contract and violations of Chapter 93A. In addition, CCB filed a cross-complaint against Sampson alleging fraud.[9]

         Discussion

         Summary judgment is appropriate when “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “To succeed, the moving party must show that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's position.” Rogers v. Fair, 902 F.2d 140, 143 (1st Cir. 1990).

         To state a claim for breach of contract under Massachusetts law, a plaintiff must allege the existence of a valid contract, that the plaintiff was ready and willing to perform, that the defendant breached the contract, and that the plaintiff sustained damages as a result. Singarella v. City of Boston, 342 Mass. 385, 387 (1961).[10] If the breach by the accused party is material, the other party is excused from further performance as a matter of law. Ward v. Am. Mut. Liab. Ins. Co., 15 Mass.App.Ct. 98, 100-101 (1983). A contract term is material if it involves “an essential and inducing feature” of the contract. Buchholz v. Green Bros. Co., 272 Mass. 49, 52 (1930). While the issue of the materiality of a breach is ordinarily one of fact for the jury, Hastings Assocs., Inc. v. Local 369 Bldg. Fund, 42 Mass.App.Ct. 162, 171 (1997), here Metric's failure to pay its employees in a timely fashion as required by Section 13 of the Subcontract, the federal Davis-Bacon Act, and the Massachusetts Wage Act, constituted a material breach of the Subcontract as a matter of law.[11] See 5 Bruner & O'Connor Construction Law ' 18:28; see also Kelso v. Kirk Bros. Mech. Contractors, Inc., 16 F.3d 1173, 1176 (Fed. Cir. 1994).[12] Metric's breach relieved CCB of any further duty to perform under the Subcontract and hence any duty to continue to make progress payments under its terms. Consequently, Metric's claim of breach of contract by CCB is doomed to fail.[13]

         In the alternative, Metric seeks the equitable intervention of the court to secure reimbursement for $158, 823.14 in uncompensated work on the Project that it claims to have completed prior to the termination. Quantum meruit is a theory of recovery (not a freestanding cause of action) that is “independent of an assertion for damages under [a] contract, ” J.A. Sullivan Corp. v. Commonwealth, 397 Mass. 789, 793 (1986). “The underlying basis for awarding quantum meruit damages in a quasi-contract case is unjust enrichment of one party and unjust detriment to the other party.” Salamon v. Terra, 394 Mass. 857, 859 (1985).

         It is axiomatic that a party coming before the court seeking equitable relief must do so with clean hands. Keystone Driller Co. v. Gen. Excavator Co.,290 U.S. 240, 244 (1933). This Metric cannot do. Its failure to pay its employees in a timely fashion as required by state and federal law (as well as by the terms of the Subcontract), compounded by Sampson's filing of perjured certifications ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.