Mississippi’s Little Miller Act, Miss. Code Ann. §§ 31-5-51, et seq., which is modeled after the federal Miller Act, 40 U.S.C. §§3131, et seq., requires that a subcontractor file suit on its payment bond claim “within one (1) year after the day on which the last labor was performed or material was supplied by the person bringing the action and not later.” Miss. Code Ann. § 31-5-53(b). This language appears to be straight forward. Nonetheless, the majority of appellate circuit courts have taken the position that “labor” or “material” furnished for minor work (e.g., punch list, remedial, or warranty-related work) does not toll the statute of limitation. Only “significant” work (relative to the nature of the subcontract work) constitutes “labor” under the Miller Act. Even where the subcontractor has a remaining contractual obligation to perform punch list items or minor corrective work, such work will not toll the 1-year statute of limitation. This means that a subcontractor should carefully monitor the date the last of its labor or material was furnished that rendered their portion of the work functional or substantially complete.
There are only two pieces of construction related legislation that passed during the 2012 session worthy of mention. The first piece of legislation is HB 1301. Click here to see HB 1301. This bill amends Miss. Code Ann. § 85-7-185 to add the requirement that an owner or contractor furnish a copy of a payment bond when requested by a subcontractor or supplier. The second bill is SB 2902. Click here to see SB 2902. This bill makes it a misdemeanor for a contractor to negotiate a joint check "tendered in payment for material or equipment furnished or labor performed" without the authorization of the other party. The offending contractor could also be fined up to $500.00, ordered to make full restitution and be required to pay the attorney’s fees.