A quick word from the construction law case files:
The Court of Appeals, Division 1, out in Washington state, has refused to deem a construction lien as frivolous based upon the complexity of the construction contract at dispute. The court in SD Deacon Corp. of Washington v. Gaston Bros. Excavating, Inc., decided back in May of this year, that the state’s “frivilous lien” statute, coded under RCW 60.04.081, requires a more in-depth analysis of factual circumstances surrounding the substance of the contract and the mechanics lien.
The court in SD Deacon further reasoned that a court can only evaluate in a frivolous lien proceeding are, by way of example, whether the lien was properly filed, signed by the proper party, properly served, and meets the statutory form requirements. Issues of substance of the lien (i.e. the contract amount, amount due or change orders) are issues which require more substantive proceedings to analyze factual circumstances.
Because the frivolous lien procedure codified in RCW 60.04.081 does not provide for such proceedings, a party seeking to extinguish a lien filing will be unsuccessful in attempting to show to the court that the lien was frivolous.
Essentially, the court’s new rule is that the “lien must be so devoid of merit that the claim has no possibility of succeeding” and that “there must be findings supporting the conclusion that the lien is invalid beyond legitimate dispute.”
The Court’s ruling provides some hope for “fringe” contractors who’s claims hold some element of uncertainty, but who desperately need the security provided by a lien in order to collect payment from an uphill contractor or owner.
The frivolous lien statute was enacted to prevent fraudulent claims against contractors, by awarding successful parties attorneys fees. The ruling in the case shows that the award of fees will not be granted unless your lien fails to meet statutory form requirements.
levelset, Inc. has the knowledge and experience to meet these stringent requirements. Let us help you ensure your lien’s success!