Embed from Getty Images
Meeting lien and bond claim filing deadlines can sometimes feel like a race against the clock. For claimants who provide on-site labor for a construction project, properly identifying the date such labor was last furnished is a critical component to winning that race.
An unpublished Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision illustrates the point. In U.S. ex rel. Mavis Mechanical Services, Inc. v. Hanover Ins. Co., 182 F.3d 910 (4th Cir. 1999), a subcontractor on a federal construction project tried to establish compliance with the Miller Act’s one-year filing deadline by arguing it furnished labor on two occasions within a year of its lawsuit. The first instance involved attendance at a coordination meeting; the second involved mobilization to the site to perform certain valve installation work it had yet to complete, but refusal by the sub to actually perform the work when the GC refused to make payment on alleged past due amounts. On these facts, the Fourth Circuit upheld the district court’s determination that neither site visit qualified as “labor” for the purposes of the Miller Act’s one-year filing deadline. That holding doomed the sub’s Miller Act claim to dismissal.
The moral of the story?
Embed from Getty Images
A couple of weeks ago, I posted my thoughts about the N.C. Court of Appeals’ recent decision in Ramey Kemp & Associates, Inc. v. Richmond Hills Residential Partners, LLC et al., which held that an engineer’s preparation of a project status update letter constituted what I call a “lienable activity,” i.e., an event sufficient to trigger the 120-day deadline for filing a mechanics’ lien under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 44A-12(b). In light of the Ramey Kemp decision, general contractors might well ask themselves, “Gee, if an engineer’s project status letter is a lienable activity on a construction project, how about the close-out paperwork I’ve gotta provide under my contract, particularly as-builts?” Good question. Continue reading
Ever since its passage last summer, North Carolina’s so-called “lien agent statute” has caused much consternation throughout the commercial construction industry, with many contractors, subs and suppliers worried that it will be inconvenient and expensive for them to comply with the statute’s various requirements (which I’ll be discussing in detail as my “Lien & Bond Law Revolution” series continues in the weeks ahead). The title insurance industry, however, has tried to assure leery potential lien claimants that an online application will make filing preliminary lien notices convenient and inexpensive.This week, we’ll get down to where the rubber meets the road on that assurance. Continue reading
Embed from Getty Images
The North Carolina Court of Appeals (“COA”) this morning issued a 33-page opinion clarifying the types of professional engineering services entitled to a claim of lien under North Carolina’s mechanics’ lien statutes. One of the three COA judges, however, issued a dissenting opinion, which means further review by the North Carolina Supreme Court could be in the offing. This post explores the facts of Ramey Kemp & Associates, Inc. v. Richmond Hills Residential Partners, LLC et al., discusses the majority and dissenting opinions, and comments on the important points to take away from the decision.
Photo Credit: Marietta Daily Journal
This afternoon I attended the first lien law “Stakeholders’ Meeting” of the North Carolina General Assembly’s 2013 Regular Session. The purpose of today’s meeting was to give folks in support of and opposition to proposed legislation that would limit the state’s new lien agent notice requirements to one- and two-family dwelling units 30 minutes per side to argue their respective cases.
I spent just under ten minutes of the “pro” side’s time making an argument that I’ve memorialized in the letter attached, below. To read a larger version of the letter, click the expand button in the lower right-hand corner of the Scribd application.
This issue is still very much ripe for discussion, and so I invite and value your comments.
In a controversial 2-1 decision released October 2, 2012, the North Carolina Court of Appeals (“COA”) affirmed a trial court’s dismissal of a mechanic’s lien claim asserted by contractors who did not have a contract with the “Owner” of the improved real property as of the date of first furnishing — even though the “Owner” ultimately acquired title to the land during the course of the contractors’ performance.
Photo credit: tvland.com
The John Conner Construction, Inc. v. Grandfather Holding Co., Inc. decision is significant to the construction industry because it limits the reach of the term “Owner” as that term is used in North Carolina’s mechanic’s lien statutes. Since there was one dissenting vote from the three-judge panel, however, the case is likely to be reviewed by the N.C. Supreme Court, which could elect to expand who qualifies as an “Owner” for the purposes of the lien law.
A full exploration of the facts, holding, dissent and practical implications of the John Conner Construction decision follows:
I’m excited to be one of five North Carolina lawyers participating in a series of seminars sponsored by CarolinasAGC aimed at helping the construction industry understand the significant lien and bond revisions passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Perdue earlier this summer.
Over the coming weeks, CAGC is sponsoring five such seminars in Durham, Wilmington, Greensboro, Charlotte and Asheville. CAGC’s website describes each seminar as follows:
This two hour seminar will cover the major, recently enacted revisions to North Carolina’s lien and public bond law statutes. House Bill 1052 and Senate Bill 42 were signed into law this July, and will take effect respectively in January and April 2013. The new laws substantially modify the steps that all parties will have to take to protect their interests — regardless of whether they are an owner, buyer, contractor or sub/supplier. In particular, the new laws impose significant new notice requirements for both public and private work. This seminar will be taught by attorneys that were intimately involved in passing the legislation and will cover in detail what the changes are and what you’ll need to do to protect your interests starting in 2013. Attendees will receive a written summary of the lien laws as amended and a copy of the Power Point
presentation presented and have ample opportunity to ask questions from the presenting attorneys.
Image courtesy Sam Killermann / samuelkillermann.com. Lyrics from “Who Are You” by P. Townshend (c) 1978.
I’m psyched to present another guest blogger this week: Lewis & Roberts construction & surety law associate extraordinaire, Jessica Bowers. It’s been my distinct pleasure to work with Jessica since she joined L&R in October 2010. Jess has represented owners, developers, GC’s and subs, and her practice has seen an increasing emphasis on serving the needs of surety companies. A member of the State bar since 2005, Jess was a recipient of the bar’s Pro Bono Public Service Award that year.
If you’re like me, you might find yourself softly singing the catchy chorus from the Who’s “Who Are You” as you consider the North Carolina Court of Appeals’ June 5, 2012 decision in Young & McQueen Grading Company, Inc. v. Mar-Comm & Assocs., Inc. et al.
The case involved a good deal of confusion regarding the correct identity of the owner of a construction project, confusion that complicated the contractor’s assertion of its mechanic’s lien rights against the owner’s property.
Rest easy, the contractor ended up prevailing and holding on to its lien rights. But it sure wasn’t easy! The decision reminds us how critical it is at the beginning of a project to determine the correct identity of the owner of the improvement by obtaining an accurate answer to one simple question:
Who are you?
The train is on the track, and there’s no slowing it down.That was the impression left on construction industry stakeholders after House Judiciary Subcommittee B approved Senate Bill 42 unanimously yesterday.
Although the bill was initially re-referred to the Finance Committee, that referral was subsequently withdrawn, and a quick scan of today’s legislative calendar suggests the bill will be considered by the entire House at 11:00 a.m. this morning (the House calendar is here; see bottom of page 2).
Legislation revising North Carolina’s mechanic’s lien law was filed in both the House and Senate sides of the N.C. General Assembly yesterday. Text of the legislation can be found here.While not the ambitious rewrite that members of the construction bar and real property bar had envisioned when the process of revising the statutory scheme began a few years ago, the pending legislation would make several important changes to existing mechanic’s lien law, while leaving a couple other significant issues for future legislative effort.
Click “Continue reading” below for my thoughts on the five most significant proposed changes embodied by the current revisions — as well as my thoughts on the top two “non-changes” to existing law.