Wisconsin Bond Claim (Little Miller Act) Overview

It’s easy to file and manage your Wisconsin bond claims with zlien, the industry’s only all-in-one bond claim and security rights management platform. Get complete control over your bond claim rights on a state, county, or municipal project, by using intelligent technology. To learn more about Wisconsin’s bond claim laws and requirements, read the frequently asked questions below.

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Wisconsin

Preliminary Notice Deadlines
None / not applicable.

Wisconsin

Bond Claim Deadlines
None / not applicable.

Wisconsin

Preliminary Notice Deadlines
60 Days

If required, within 60 days from the claimant’s first furnishing of labor and/or materials to the project for Bond Claim. Contract Funds: N/A

Wisconsin

Bond Claim Deadlines
1 Year

Bond: Lawsuit, within 1 year of project completion Contract Funds: See below

Wisconsin

Preliminary Notice Deadlines
60 Days

If required, within 60 days from the claimant’s first furnishing of labor and/or materials to the project for Bond Claim. Contract Funds: N/A

Wisconsin

Bond Claim Deadlines
1 Year

Bond: Lawsuit, within 1 year of project completion Contract Funds: See below

Wisconsin Bond Claim (Little Miller Act) FAQs

Wisconsin Bond Claim FAQs

Who Is Protected under Wisconsin Bond Claim Laws?

In Wisconsin, the parties protected on a public project depend on the type of claim being made. Parties allowed to make a bond claim include every party furnishing labor and/or materials (or plans or specifications) to the general contractor, or to a first-tier subcontractor. Those allowed to make a claim on contract funds are limited to parties who furnish labor and/or material to the general contractor only. In either situation, a supplier to a supplier is not covered.

When is the Deadline to File a Wisconsin Bond Claim?

Bond: In Wisconsin, there is no statutory requirement specifically requiring any notice of claim prior to initiating suit other than the preliminary notice discussed below. It may be best practice, however, to follow the same requirements as outlined for a lien on contract funds.

Contract Funds: Notice of a claim on the contract funds must be made prior to payment being made to the general contractor.

City of Milwaukee Projects: Claim must be given within 20 days after the date of last furnishing labor and/or materials to the project.

Who Should Receive the Wisconsin Bond Claim?

Bond: In Wisconsin, there is no statutory requirement specifically requiring any notice of claim prior to initiating suit other than the preliminary notice discussed below. It may be best practice, however, to follow the same requirements as outlined for a lien on contract funds, and to deliver a copy of the claim to the surety (if known).

Contract Funds: Notice of a claim on the contract funds must be given to the general contractor, and to the clerk of the municipality/state department/board/etc. in charge of the work.

City of Milwaukee Projects: Claim must be given to the city clerk and commissioner of public works.

When is the Deadline to Initiate Suit, or, How Long is My Wisconsin Bond Claim Effective?

Bond: In Wisconsin, an action on the bond must be initiated within 1 year of completion of the contract. While it is not specifically identified in the statutory language, it has been treated to be 1 year after the completion of the prime contract with the public entity, not the claimant’s contract with his hiring party.

Contract Funds: A suit is not necessary unless the lien on funds is disputed by the contractor. To dispute the lien the contractor must serve written notice on the contracting public entity with 30 days of receiving the claim. If the claim is disputed, suit must be initiated within 3 months of the claim being served, and within the same 3 month time period, a notice of the claimant bringing the action must be filed with the same officer with whom notice of the claim was originally filed.

City of Milwaukee Projects: No specific provision, but presumably the same time period as any other bond claim applies.

What Must the Wisconsin Bond Claim Include?

In Wisconsin, there is no statutory requirement specifically requiring what information must be included in either a bond claim or a claim against the unpaid contract funds. It is likely advisable to include the amount of the claim, identification of the contracting public entity, the general contractor, the hiring party, and the claimant, and a description of the labor and/or materials furnished and the project as a whole.

City of Milwaukee Projects: No specific provision, but presumably the same time period as any other bond claim applies.

How Must the Wisconsin Bond Claim Be Sent?

Bond: In Wisconsin, there is no statutory requirement specifically requiring any notice of claim prior to initiating suit other than the preliminary notice discussed below. It may be best practice, however, to follow the same requirements as outlined for a lien on contract funds.

Contract Funds: Notice of a claim on the contract funds must be served via registered or certified mail, personal service, or another method in which the recipient gives written confirmation of receipt/delivery.

City of Milwaukee Projects: The claim must be sent by registered mail.

Wisconsin Public Project Preliminary Notice FAQs

Do I Need to Send a Wisconsin Preliminary Notice?

It depends. In Wisconsin, preliminary notice is generally required to preserve a claimant’s right to make a bond claim, unless one of the specific exceptions apply. Parties who are not required to send preliminary notice prior to making a bond claim in Wisconsin are claimant’s whose contract was for less than $5000, claimants who are employees of the general or sub, and claimant’s listed in the contract between the general and the sub.

Preliminary notice is not required from any party prior to making a claim on the contract funds.

When do I Need to Send a Wisconsin Preliminary Notice?

Bond: In Wisconsin, the preliminary notice must be received by the general contractor within 60 days from the claimant’s first furnishing of labor and/or materials to the project.

Contract Funds: N/A

What if I Send the Wisconsin Preliminary Notice Late?

Bond: When required, preliminary notice is mandatory, and the failure to timely provide preliminary notice is fatal to the claim.

Contract Funds: N/A

How Should the Wisconsin Preliminary Notice be Sent?

Bond: The preliminary notice must be served on the general contractor via registered or certified mail, personal service, or other means of delivery in which the recipient gives written confirmation of delivery/receipt. It is not explicitly outlined in the statute, but it appears likely that actual receipt of the preliminary notice is essential to the future claim.

Contract Funds: N/A

To Whom Must the Wisconsin Preliminary Notice be Given?

Bond: In Wisconsin, preliminary notice should be delivered to the general contractor supplying the bond.

Contract Funds: N/A

Wisconsin Bond Claim (Little Miller Act) Statutes

When you perform work on a state construction project in Wisconsin, and are not paid, you can file a “lien” against the project pursuant to Wisconsin’s Little Miller Act. Since the claim is not against the state or county’s actual property, but instead against a posted bond, the claim is not really called a “lien” but is more frequently referred to as a “bond claim” or “little miller act claim.” Wisconsin’s Little Miller Act is found in Wisconsin Statutes, Chapter 779, Sub-chapter I, and is reproduced below.

Wisconsin Little Miller Act Statute

779.14 Public works, form of contract, bond, remedy.

(1) Definition. In this section, “subcontractor, supplier, or service provider” means the following: (a) Any person who has a direct contractual relationship, expressed or implied, with the prime contractor or with any subcontractor of the prime contractor to perform, furnish, or procure labor, services, materials, plans, or specifications, except as provided in par. (b). (b) With respect to contracts entered into under s. 84.06 (2) for highway improvements, any person who has a direct contractual relationship, expressed or implied, with the prime contractor to perform, furnish, or procure labor, services, materials, plans, or specifications. (1e) Contract requirements regarding duties of prime contractor. (a) All contracts involving $10,000 or more for performing, furnishing, or procuring labor, services, materials, plans, or specifications, when the same pertains to any public improvement or public work shall contain a provision for the payment by the prime contractor of all claims for labor, services, materials, plans, or specifications performed, furnished, procured, used, or consumed that pertain to the public improvement or public work. (b) All contracts that are in excess of $30,000, as indexed under sub. (1s), and that are for performing, furnishing, or procuring labor, services, materials, plans, or specifications for a public improvement or public work shall contain a provision under which the prime contractor agrees, to the extent practicable, to maintain a list of all subcontractors, suppliers, and service providers performing, furnishing, or procuring labor, services, materials, plans, or specifications under the contract.   (1m) Payment and performance assurance requirements. (c) State contracts. The following requirements apply to contracts with the state for performing, furnishing, or procuring labor, services, materials, plans, or specifications for a public improvement or public work: 1. In the case of a contract with a contract price exceeding $10,000, as indexed under sub. (1s), but not exceeding $100,000, as indexed under sub. (1s): a. The contract shall include a provision which allows the state to make direct payment to subcontractors or to pay the prime contractor with checks that are made payable to the prime contractor and to one or more subcontractors. This subd. 1. a. does not apply to any contract entered into by the state under authority granted under chs. 84, 85 and 86. This subd. 1. a. also does not apply to any contract with a town, city, village, county or school district for the construction, improvement, extension, repair, replacement or removal of a transportation facility, as defined under s. 84.185 (1) (d); bikeway, as defined under s. 84.60 (1) (a); bridge; parking lot or airport facility. b. The contract shall comply with written standards established by the department of administration. Written standards established under this subd. 1. b. shall include criteria for determining whether the contract requires payment or performance assurances and, if so, what payment or performance assurances are required. 2. In the case of a contract with a contract price exceeding $100,000, as indexed under sub. (1s), but not exceeding $250,000, as indexed under sub. (1s): a. The contract shall include a provision which allows the state to make direct payment to subcontractors or to pay the prime contractor with checks that are made payable to the prime contractor and to one or more subcontractors. This subd. 2. a. does not apply to any contract entered into by the state under authority granted under chs. 84, 85 and 86. This subd. 2. a. also does not apply to any contract with a town, city, village, county or school district for the construction, improvement, extension, repair, replacement or removal of a transportation facility, as defined under s. 84.185 (1) (d); bikeway, as defined under s. 84.60 (1) (a); bridge; parking lot or airport facility. b. The contract shall require the prime contractor to provide a payment and performance bond meeting the requirements of par. (e), unless the department of administration allows the prime contractor to substitute a different payment assurance for the payment and performance bond. The department of administration may allow a prime contractor to substitute a different payment and performance assurance for the payment and performance bond only after the contract has been awarded and only if the substituted payment and performance assurance is for an amount at least equal to the contract price and is in the form of a bond, an irrevocable letter of credit or an escrow account acceptable to the department of administration. The department of administration shall establish written standards under this subd. 2. b. governing when a different payment and performance assurance may be substituted for a payment and performance bond under par. (e). 3. In the case of a contract with a contract price exceeding $250,000, as indexed under sub. (1s), the contract shall require the prime contractor to obtain a payment and performance bond meeting the requirements under par. (e). (d) Local government contracts. The following requirements apply to contracts, other than contracts with the state, for performing, furnishing, or procuring labor, services, materials, plans, or specifications for a public improvement or public work: 1. In the case of a contract with a contract price exceeding $10,000, as indexed under sub. (1s), but not exceeding $50,000, as indexed under sub. (1s): a. The contract shall include a provision which allows the governmental body that is authorized to enter into the contract to make direct payment to subcontractors or to pay the prime contractor with checks that are made payable to the prime contractor and to one or more subcontractors. This subd. 1. a. does not apply to any contract with a town, city, village, county or school district for the construction, improvement, extension, repair, replacement or removal of a transportation facility, as defined under s. 84.185 (1) (d); bikeway, as defined under s. 84.60 (1) (a); bridge; parking lot or airport facility. b. The contract shall comply with written standards established by the public body authorized to enter into the contract. Written standards established under this subd. 1. b. shall include criteria for determining whether the contract requires payment or performance assurances and, if so, what payment or performance assurances are required. 2. In the case of a contract with a contract price exceeding $50,000, as indexed under sub. (1s), but not exceeding $100,000, as indexed under sub. (1s): a. The contract shall include a provision which allows the governmental body that is authorized to enter into the contract to make direct payment to subcontractors or to pay the prime contractor with checks that are made payable to the prime contractor and to one or more subcontractors. This subd. 2. a. does not apply to any contract with a town, city, village, county or school district for the construction, improvement, extension, repair, replacement or removal of a transportation facility, as defined under s. 84.185 (1) (d); bikeway, as defined under s. 84.60 (1) (a); bridge; parking lot or airport facility. b. Except as provided in sub. (4), the contract shall require the prime contractor to provide a payment and performance bond meeting the requirements of par. (e), unless the public body authorized to enter into the contract allows the prime contractor to substitute a different payment assurance for the payment and performance bond. The public body may allow a prime contractor to substitute a different payment and performance assurance for the payment and performance bond only if the substituted payment and performance assurance is for an amount at least equal to the contract price and is in the form of a bond, an irrevocable letter of credit or an escrow account acceptable to the public body. The public body shall establish written standards under this subd. 2. b. governing when a different payment and performance assurance may be substituted for a payment and performance bond under par. (e). 3. Except as provided in sub. (4), in the case of a contract with a contract price exceeding $100,000, as indexed under sub. (1s), the contract shall require the prime contractor to obtain a payment and performance bond meeting the requirements under par. (e). (e) Bonding requirements. 2. A bond required under par. (c) or (d) shall carry a penalty of not less than the contract price, and shall be conditioned for all of the following: a. The faithful performance of the contract. b. The payment to every person, including every subcontractor, supplier, or service provider, of all claims that are entitled to payment for labor, services, materials, plans, or specifications performed, furnished, or procured for the purpose of making the public improvement or performing the public work as provided in the contract and sub. (1e) (a). 3. A bond required under par. (c) shall be approved for the state by the state official authorized to enter the contract. A bond required under par. (d) shall be approved for a county by its corporation counsel, for a city by its mayor, for a village by its president, for a town by its chairperson, for a school district by its president and for any other public board or body by the presiding officer thereof. 4. No assignment, modification or change of the contract, change in the work covered thereby or extension of time for the completion of the contract may release the sureties on a bond required under par. (c) or (d). 5. Neither the invitation for bids nor the person having power to approve the prime contractor’s bond may require that a bond required under par. (c) or (d) be furnished by a specified surety company or through a specified agent or broker. (f) Direct purchase contracts. Paragraphs (c) and (d) do not apply to a contract for the direct purchase of materials by the state or by a local unit of government. (1s) Indexing of contract thresholds. If a dollar amount is to be indexed under this subsection, the department of workforce development shall adjust the dollar amount biennially, the first adjustment to be made not sooner than December 1, 1998. The adjustment shall be in proportion to any change in construction costs since the effective date of this subsection under this subsection, or the last adjustment whichever is later. No adjustment shall be made for a biennium, if the adjustment to be made would be less than 5%. (2) Actions on a performance and payment bond. (a) Except as provided in par. (am), no later than one year after the completion of work under the contract, any party in interest, including any subcontractor, supplier, or service provider, may maintain an action in that party’s name against the prime contractor and the sureties upon the bond for the recovery of any damages sustained by reason of any of the following: 1. Failure of the prime contractor to comply with the contract. 2. Except as provided in subd. 3., failure of the prime contractor or a subcontractor of the prime contractor to comply with a contract, whether express or implied, with a subcontractor, supplier, or service provider for performing, furnishing, or procuring labor, services, materials, plans, or specifications for the purpose of making the public improvement or performing the public work that is the subject of the contract with the governmental entity. 3. With respect to contracts entered into under s. 84.06 (2) for highway improvements, failure of the prime contractor to comply with a contract, whether express or implied, with a subcontractor, supplier, or service provider of the prime contractor for performing, furnishing, or procuring labor, services, materials, plans, or specifications for the purpose of making the highway improvement that is the subject of the contract with the governmental entity. (am) 1. Except as provided in subd. 2., a subcontractor, supplier, or service provider may maintain an action under par. (a) only if the subcontractor, supplier, or service provider has served a written notice on the prime contractor that the subcontractor, supplier, or service provider has performed, furnished, or procured, or will perform, furnish, or procure labor, services, materials, plans, or specifications to the public work or improvement. The notice must be served no later than 60 days after the date on which the subcontractor, supplier, or service provider first performed, furnished, or procured the labor, services, materials, plans, or specifications. 2. A notice under subd. 1. is not required if any of the following applies: a. The contract for performing, furnishing, or procuring the labor, services, materials, plans, or specifications does not exceed $5,000. b. The action is brought by an employee of the prime contractor, subcontractor, supplier, or service provider. c. The subcontractor, supplier, or service provider is listed in the list required to be maintained under sub. (1e) (b) or in a written contract, or in a document appended to a written contract, between a subcontractor, supplier, or service provider and the prime contractor. (b) If the amount realized on the bond is insufficient to satisfy all claims of the parties in full, it shall be distributed among the parties proportionally. (3) Actions by a county. In an action by a county upon the bond all persons for whose protection it was given and who make claim thereunder may be joined in the action. The county highway commissioner may take assignments of all demands and claims for labor, services, materials, plans, or specifications and enforce the same in the action for the benefit of the assignors, and the judgment may provide the manner in which the assignors shall be paid. (4) Bonding exemption. A contract with a local professional football stadium district under subch. IV of ch. 229 is not required under sub. (1m) (d) 2. b. or 3. to include a provision requiring the prime contractor to provide or obtain a payment and performance bond or other payment assurance. Back to Top

779.15 Public improvements; lien on money, bonds, or warrants due the prime contractor; duty of officials.

(1) Any person who performs, furnishes, procures, manages, supervises, or administers any labor, services, materials, plans, or specifications used or consumed in making public improvements or performing public work, to any prime contractor, except in cities of the 1st class, shall have a lien on the money or bonds or warrants due or to become due the prime contractor therefor, if the lienor, before payment is made to the prime contractor, serves a written notice of the claim on the debtor state, county, town, or municipality. The debtor shall withhold a sufficient amount to pay the claim and, when it is admitted by the prime contractor or established under sub. (3), shall pay the claim and charge it to the prime contractor. Any officer violating the duty hereby imposed shall be liable on his or her official bond to the claimant for the damages resulting from the violation. There shall be no preference between the lienors serving the notices. (2) Service of the notice under sub. (1) shall be made upon the clerk of the municipality or in the clerk’s absence upon the treasurer. If any of the money due the prime contractor is payable by the state, service of the notice under sub. (1) shall be served upon the state department, board, or commission having jurisdiction over the work. A copy of the notice shall be served concurrently upon the prime contractor. (3) If a valid lien exists under sub. (1) and the prime contractor does not dispute the claim within 30 days after service on the prime contractor of the notice provided in sub. (2), by serving written notice on the debtor state, county, town, or municipality and the lien claimant, the amount claimed shall be paid over to the claimant on demand and charged to the prime contractor pursuant to sub. (1). If the prime contractor disputes the claim, the right to a lien and to the moneys in question shall be determined in an action brought by the claimant or the prime contractor. If the action is not brought within 3 months from the time the notice required by sub. (1) is served, and notice of bringing the action filed with the officer with whom the claim is filed, the lien rights are barred. (4) (a) When the total of the lien claims exceeds the sum due the prime contractor and where the prime contractor has not disputed the amounts of the claims filed, the debtor state, county, town or municipality, through the officer, board, department or commission with whom the claims are filed, shall determine on a proportional basis who is entitled to the money and shall notify all claimants and the prime contractor in writing of the determination. Unless an action is commenced by a claimant or by the prime contractor within 20 days after the mailing of the notice, the money shall be paid out in accordance with the determination and the liability of the state, county, town or municipality to any lien claimant shall cease. (b) If an action is commenced, all claimants shall be made parties and the action shall be commenced within 3 months after acceptance of the work by the proper public authority except as otherwise herein provided. (c) Within 10 days after the filing of a certified copy of judgment in any such action with the officers with whom the notice authorized by sub. (1) is filed, the money due the prime contractor shall be paid to the clerk of court to be distributed in accordance with the judgment. Back to Top