Aetna Bridge Co. v. State DOT – Case Brief Summary (Rhode Island)

In Aetna Bridge Co. v. State DOT, 795 A.2d 517, 524 (R.I. 2002), the Department of Transportation (DOT) entered into a contract with Aetna Bridge Company (Aetna) wherein Aetna agreed to perform bridge reconstruction work. Id. at 518.

Aetna, in turn, subcontracted with L.B. Foster (Foster), and Foster subcontracted with Alpha Structures, Inc. (Alpha). Id. Alpha expended additional monies, and sought to recover them from Foster. Id. at 519. Foster then sought to recover these monies from Aetna. Id.

Aetna refused to pay Foster, but asserted a claim against DOT on Foster's behalf, via a demand for arbitration. Id.

The court held that "if Aetna's claim against DOT indeed was a 'pass-through' claim with no concomitant liability to Aetna, then it would not be arbitrable pursuant to the doctrine enunciated in Severin." Id. at 524.

The court also mentioned, in a footnote, that "'it is insufficient proof for a prime contractor who is suing an owner to prove that his or her subcontractor has sustained injury or damage through fault of the owner unless the prime contractor goes further and shows that he or she somehow is responsible to the subcontractor for those damages.'" Id. at 524, n.13.