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Unclean Hands Bars Suit Between Construction Contractors Where Subcontractor Failed to Pay Labor Code Prevailing Wages

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Plaintiff construction subcontractor appealed from a trial court ruling that its suit against the construction contractor was barred by the doctrine of unclean hands.  B & K Custom Cabinets, Inc. v. B.K. Ball, Inc., No. C060766, 2010 WL 3508321 (Cal. Ct. App. 3d Dist. Sept. 9, 2010).  The subcontractor B & K sued contractor Ball seeking to enforce a stop notice and asserting causes of action for breach of contract and violation of the prompt payment laws, all designed to recover $155,534 allegedly due under the subcontract. Id. *6.  Ball claimed it owed no more than $87,987, but because it had knowledge of B & K’s prevailing wage violation, Ball could not pay even that amount without exposing itself to liability under Labor Code section 1775 unless B & K provided “an affidavit signed under penalty of perjury” attesting that B & K employees had been paid the prevailing wages.” Id. (citing Lab. Code § 1775(b)). Continue reading

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