In the great Midwest, several states have traditionally been known to have strong, contractor-friendly lien laws. States such as Kansas, Iowa, and especially Missouri have mechanic lien laws which are aimed at preserving contractor rights to the fullest extent possible.
The Midwest Construction Blawg, an internet resource maintained by Dave Seitter, seeks to provide contractors across the states of Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri with available resources for their everyday use. One of the most useful resources is Mr. Seitter’s blog which provides up to date case summaries and findings, shaping the lien laws of those states.
Recently, Mr. Seitter has tracked several developing cases over the State of Missouri which pertain to the State’s heavy handed lien laws. In his recent findings, Dave has stated that “Missouri mechanic lien laws continue to [be] liberal in nature – aimed to protect contractors and suppliers.” His remarks were made in response to the case of Glenstone Block Company v. Pebworth, a seminal Missouri case providing insight into the prosecution of mechanic’s liens.
In Glenstone Block, a Missouri Court of Appeals upheld a trial court’s ruling that Missouri’s law provided an “honest mistake” loophole of sorts for contractors recording liens. The recordation of a lien in the State requires a lien statement of the claim, illustrating that the materials or labor were provided on the job site. Though Glenstone’s attachments to its lien were not, in the traditional sense, acceptable, and its claim included work which was not in fact lienable, the Court applied liberal discretion in favor of the contractor.
Citing decades old precedent, the Court stated:
“[S]tatutes creating mechanic’s liens are remedial in nature and should be given a liberal construction so as to effectuate their object and purpose and protect the claims of the mechanics and materialmen. The mechanic’s lien law is to be construed as favorably to the materialman as its terms permit.”
Even more surprising was the Court’s upholding of a trial court decision to award pre-judgment interest to the claimant in the absence of a contractual clause providing the same. Though Missouri law provides such pre-judgment interest where the claimant has a contract with the opposing party, it had not made a determination as to whether lien claimants could recover such interest against homeowners, with which they do not have contracts.
Glenstone determined that lien claimants may in fact be able to recover up to 18% yearly interest on their lien claims. While many other states lack this protection, contractors in Missouri are provided with extra incentive to take the time and file liens on unpaid projects.
Levelset advises Missouri contractors that lien notice is required for all parties who do not contract with the owner. While a lien can protect your interests, its important that it is formed and filed correctly. Levelset can assist you with these necessary steps.
Levelset continues to follow the developing scene in the Midwest, promising to bring you the services you need, to get paid.