Air Control Tech. v. Pre Con Indus.

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 06-28-2013
  • Case #: 11-56230
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Murguia for the Court; Circuit Judge M. Smith, Jr.; District Judge Zouhary
  • Full Text Opinion

The Miller Act’s one year statute of limitations is a claim-processing rule, not a jurisdictional requirement as previously decided in United States ex rel. Celanese Coatings Co. v. Gullard.

Air Control Technologies (“ACT”) brought suit against Pre Con Industries (“PCI”) pursuant to the Miller Act. A Miller Act claim must be brought within one year and one day from when the last labor relating to the job which gives rise to the claim was preformed. The district court dismissed ACT’s claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the claim was brought beyond the one year requirement. The Ninth Circuit has been split as to how to treat the one year requirement of the Miller Act. One view, shared by the district court below, is that the time limit is a jurisdictional requirement. The other view is that the one year limit is a claim- possessing rule. This split has called for a need to distinguish time limitations that are jurisdictional from those that are claim processing rules. Unlike a jurisdictional requirement, which must be satisfied for the court to have jurisdiction, claim processing rules are only to maintain order in the system. The bright line rule is that absent an express statement or clear contextual evidence that the time limitation is to be jurisdictional, it should not be treated as such. In United States ex rel. Celanese Coatings Co. v. Gullard, the Ninth Circuit held that the one year provision in the Miller Act was a jurisdictional requirement. However, the Supreme Court has held that deadlines are a clear example of claim-processing rules. Overruling Celanese, the panel concluded that because the Miller Act does not include terms like “court” or “jurisdictional” and because the Act is not the sole reason for a federal court’s jurisdiction over Miller Act claims, the one year requirement is not a jurisdictional requirement. Therefore, ACT’s claim should not have been dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. VACATED and REMANDED.

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