Board of Regents Protected by Sovereign Immunity for Failing to Confirm Validity of Payment Bond

September 30, 2013

The news for sixty-nine workers went from bad to worse with a September 25, 2013 decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals. The plaintiffs’ employer failed to pay their wages for work performed under a maintenance contract with Georgia Southern University from November 2009 through June 2010.

While the employees would have had a “Little Miller Act” claim against the payment bond submitted by the employer, that bond turned out to be fraudulent. Consequently, the employees sued the Board of Regents claiming university officials were negligent in failing to ensure that the statutorily-required payment bond was valid. The Georgia Court of Appeals rejected the claim, holding that “[t]he Plaintiff’s injuries – their unpaid wages – resulted from [their employer’s] actions. The State action taken in this case – the requirement of the payment bond – itself produced no loss to the Plaintiffs.” Board of Regents of the Univ. Sys. of Ga. v. Brooks, Ga. Ct. App. Case No. A13A1328, decided Sept. 25, 2013. Because there is no waiver of sovereign immunity for an act committed by a state contractor, the Board of Regents was entitled to summary judgment. Id.

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