PA Superior Court: No 2nd Chance To Get Your Mechanic’s Lien Right

March 31, 2011
John A. Livingood, Jr.

On March 29, 2011, the Pennsylvania Superior Court announced its decision in Clearwater Concrete v. WPFSI, 2011 Pa. Super. 64. In this case, Clearwater was the concrete curbing subcontractor for a shopping development construction project. Clearwater’s contract required it to perform work on property owned both by the original parcel owner, WPFSI, along with property owned by Lowe’s Home Centers. Clearwater originally filed a mechanic’s lien for the full unpaid amount against only WPFSI. Clearwater then filed a second lien on the Lowe’s property parcel. Lowe’s objected and the court agreed that the second lien was invalid. The Superior Court first reiterated that any question about the interpretation of mechanic’s liens should be strictly and narrowly construed against the lien. The court then determined that the first lien filed only against WPFSI precluded the filing of a second lien for the same amount and work against another (albeit correct) entity, “Clearwater was not entitled to file two liens for improvements to a single business plant.”

This decision reinforces the need for early identification of actual property owners for a construction project. All too often, whether due to other collection efforts or client relation issues, there is insufficient time to identify a property owner before the deadlines for lien notices expire. You only get one chance to get the mechanic’s lien right.

For more information on this decision, or any other aspect of Margolis Edelstein’s construction practice, do not hesitate to contact me.