We here at levelset like to keep our readers current on lien law trends and where the courts are headed. I read through a number of cases on a regular basis, finding tidbits of information that are useful. This blog post discusses a rather creative, yet failing argument presented by the unpaid contractor.

The important issue here is that the construction project is a federal one which is governed by the Miller Act. Here, the plaintiff tries to mix in some of the Massachusetts Prompt Pay Act statutes on this federal job, in order to bolster the plaintiffs claims for more damages.

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The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts decided a Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss in the United States v. Constr. & Telcom. Servs., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108829 (D. Mass. Aug. 2, 2013) matter. While this is nothing out of the ordinary, I did like the substance of the ruling in this particular issue.

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The plaintiff here attempts to get the Prompt Pay Act to apply to a federal project. The problem is that the Massachusetts Prompt Pay Act only applies where contractors and suppliers are allowed to file a lien on real property for work performed or materials incorporated, under the Massachusetts Mechanics Lien law. Federal projects are subject to the Miller Act. The problem is that the Massachusetts Prompt Pay Act only applies where contractors and suppliers are allowed to file a lien on real property for work performed or materials incorporated, under the Massachusetts Mechanics Lien law. Federal projects are subject to the Miller Act.

The creative part is that the plaintiff urges the court to treat its Miller Act claim rights as equal to the lien rights on real property. The Federal Miller Act requires a claim on a bond, not real property. The Court here properly did not allow for the parallel leap.

Often times we report on how the courts make bad or legally improper decisions. The Massachusetts Court here made the correct decision. There is no bad law out there because of it. Other people interested in legal decisions should admire the creativity of the plaintiff’s lawyer who was bold enough to try and plead that Prompt Pay Act applies to federally owned property.

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