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Superior Court Permits Contractor to Recover Post-Judgment Interest, Penalties, Attorney’s Fees and Expenses Under the Contractor and Subcontractor Payment Act

In Zimmerman v. Harrisburg Fudd I, L.P., 2009 Pa.Super. 202 (2009), the Pennsylvania Superior Court, in interpreting the Contractor and Subcontractor Payment Act (CASPA), permitted plaintiff (contractor) to recover post-judgment interest, penalties, attorney's fees and expenses from collecting the money plaintiff was owed from defendant (owner).

Plaintiff and defendant entered into an agreement requiring plaintiff to install improvements to the wall and floor of a new restaurant being built by defendant. After not being paid for four months after submitting an invoice, plaintiff brought a breach of contract action against defendant. At arbitration, the parties stipulated to an award in favor of plaintiff and against defendant for the amount of the contract claim, plus statutory interest, penalty, and attorney fees as provided for by CASPA. Plaintiff subsequently entered the arbitration award and executed on the judgment. Defendant filed a claim for exemption from the execution which was denied by the trial court. An emergency motion to stay the execution was subsequently filed by defendant and was denied by the trial court. The denial of the emergency motion to stay the execution was denied and appealed to the Superior Court. While on appeal, plaintiff was paid by a garnishee of defendant.

The Superior Court affirmed the trial court's denial of defendant's motion for an emergency stay of execution and plaintiff subsequently filed a motion to recover statutory interest from the date of the arbitration award to the date they were paid by garnishee, the statutory penalty under CASPA, attorney fees and expenses incurred in the post-award proceedings. The trial court denied this motion and plaintiff appealed to the Superior Court.

The Superior Court held that the trial court abused its discretion because Section 505 of CASPA mandates that payment of statutory interest be paid and a penalty of 1% per month must be paid if payment is made after twenty days of delivery of the invoice. Additionally, CASPA provides for attorney fees to be paid to the prevailing party in any proceeding to recover any payment under CASPA. The Superior Court held that plaintiff was the prevailing party because the arbitrators awarded plaintiff the entire amount of their claim.

The Superior Court held that plaintiff is entitled to attorney fees and expenses for those attorney fees and expenses incurred during the post-award period during which plaintiff incurred expenses to defend against, inter alia, defendant's claim for exemption, defendant's motion for an emergency stay and related appeal, and the instant appeal. It remanded the case to the trial court with instructions to conduct a hearing to determine a reasonable amount of attorney fees and expenses incurred by plaintiff.


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