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Construction Law Authority / Cases  / Free Construction Work, Come and Get It

Free Construction Work, Come and Get It

Aaron Pruss, Board Certified Construction LawyerIf you want work done for free, hire an unlicensed contractor.  The 3rd District Court of Appeals rendered a not-final opinion October 27th articulating a very clear message: unlicensed contractors need not be paid. 
 
In Master Tech Satellite, Inc., etc. v. Mastec North America, Inc., etc. (No. 3D08-2509 October 27, 2010), Master Tech was hired by Mastec North America to install residential digital satellite systems for Mastec’s customers.  Mastec North America apparently did not pay for the work.  Master Tech then sued to recover on the contract in an amount in excess of $300,000.00.  During the course of discovery, it was brought to light that the work performed by Master Tech involved at least some electrical work and required a license.  It was also discovered that, in fact, Master Tech did not hold such a license.  The trial court granted summary judgment for defendant based on Sec.489.532, Florida Statutes (2004), which makes an unlicensed contractor’s contracts unenforceable. Since Master Tech was not licensed as an electrical contractor, and the installation work required an electrical contractor’s license, the 3rd DCA affirmed trial court’s ruling that the unlicensed contractor’s contracts are unenforceable and Master Tech was not entitled to recover anything.

What makes this case even more interesting is pointed out in the dissent. The dissenting judge notes that Mastec North America collected payment for the unlicensed work from its customers, but did not have to pay the contractor for the installation work. As a result, Mastec North America benefitted from a six figure windfall.  Such a windfall is a relatively unusual result, but may go to show just how serious the Court’s are about stopping unlicensed contracting in Florida.

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