Unlicensed Subcontractor – § 34-8-1, Ala. Code 1975

MSE Bldg. Co., Inc. v. The Stewart/Perry Company, et al., [Ms. SC-2022-0910, Oct. 20, 2023] __ So. 3d ____ (Ala. 2023). The Court (Stewart, J.; Parker, C.J., and Wise and Cook, JJ., concur; Sellers, J., concurs in the result) affirms in part and reverses in part the Jefferson Circuit Court’s summary judgment dismissing claims asserted by MSE Building Company, Inc. (“MSE”) for breach of contract, violation of the prompt-payment requirements of § 8-29-1, Ala. Code 1975, unjust enrichment, quantum meruit, negligence, and enforcement of materialman’s liens against the general contractor The Stewart/Perry Company, the owner Buc-ee’s, Ltd., Buc-ee’s Alabama II, LLC, and Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company.

The defendants successfully moved for summary judgment, arguing that (1) MSE was barred from recovering any damages because its claims relied, in part, on an illegal contract with an unlicensed subcontractor, (2) its negligence claim failed as a matter of law, and (3) its lien claim failed because the lien had been transferred to a bond.

On de novo review, the Court concludes there are genuine issues of material fact regarding whether “the contracted work [temporary labor provided by PeopleHR] was the type covered by the licensure statute.” Ms. *17. The Court explains “there is a dispute in this case regarding whether the temporary laborers were engaged in actual concrete work, construction, or supervisory activities that fall under the licensing requirements of § 34-8-1 or whether they were engaged in menial labor.” Ms. *15.

The Court affirms the trial court’s entry of summary judgment for Buc-ee’s on MSE’s negligence claim, concluding there was no evidence that Buc-ee’s breached any duty or caused any harm to MSE. Ms. *19.

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