Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>I am a freight broker in Louisiana, hired by a steel fabricator in Louisiana to move several loads of their material to a construction site in Florida (the end user). The steel fabricator is not paying us along with most of their other vendors for this project and I would like to file a lien against the construction company in Florida to get paid since it is their material that we delivered. Seems complicated - How do I do this or is it even possible?
I am a freight broker in Louisiana, hired by a steel fabricator in Louisiana to move several loads of their material to a construction site in Florida (the end user). The steel fabricator is not paying us along with most of their other vendors for this project and I would like to file a lien against the construction company in Florida to get paid since it is their material that we delivered. Seems complicated - How do I do this or is it even possible?
I do not know which state this "situation" occurred - either Louisiana or Florida. We were hired by Louisiana company to deliver material to a contractor in Florida.
Apr 8, 2019
That's a good question. First, it's worth mentioning that mechanics liens aren't filed against businesses themselves. Rather, when a mechanics lien is filed, that lien will attach to the project property which is improved by the work that's been performed. So, where a subcontractor or supplier goes unpaid by their contractor, the lien will still attach to the property rather than against a particular contractor. With that in mind, let's look at specifics under Florida lien law (because the lien laws of the location of the improvement are ultimately the laws which a lien claim would be made under). In Florida, lien rights are pretty broadly granted, but there are strict notice requirements that must be followed in order to preserve the right to lien. Generally, in order for lien rights to arise, a potential claimant must furnish labor or materials for the improvement of real property. In Florida, the following parties are generally entitled to mechanics lien rights: Prime contractors, subcontractors, sub-subs, laborers, material suppliers furnishing material to owners/contractors/subs/or sub-subs, and design professionals. Generally, when lien rights arise for the furnishing of materials to an improvement, those rights will lie with the party who supplies them. Looking at the Florida lien statute doesn't provide all that much more clarity. Under § 713.01(14) of the Florida mechanics lien statute, to "furnish materials" means to "supply materials which are incorporated in the improvement including normal wastage in construction operations; or specially fabricated materials for incorporation in the improvement...or supply materials used for the construction and not remaining in the improvement...The delivery of materials to the site of the improvement is prima facie evidence of incorporation of such materials in the improvement." So, if the work provided seems to fall under that definition, then the supply of materials might constitute lienable work. Recall, though, that even where lien rights might be available - claimants who do not have a contract directly with the owner of the property must abide by certain requirements in order to preserve their right to lien in Florida. In Florida, in order to later be able to file a mechanics lien, a claimant must send preliminary notice within 45 days of first furnishing labor or materials to the construction project. If this notice is not sent, the claimant won't be able to file a valid and enforceable mechanics lien. But, it's worth noting that even in a situation where a lien claim can't or won't be filed, sending a mechanics lien warning like a Notice of Intent to Lien can work to compel payment. Because a mechanics lien filing can have such a drastic impact on so many different participants in a construction project, sending a Notice of Intent to Lien to the property owner, their prime contractor, and any other higher-tiered party can help compel payment since it puts additional pressure on the customer to make payment. You can learn more about that idea here: What is a Notice of Intent to Lien?. Plus, there are always other options outside of the mechanics lien process that might help recovery, and some of those options are discussed in this article: Other Options for Recovery. Finally, mechanics lien laws can seem a little complex, but these resources break them down well: (1) Florida Lien & Notice Overview; (2) How to File a Florida Mechanics Lien; and (3) How Do Mechanics Liens Work?