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Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>I went to court after the recording of the mechanic lien, I prevailed in SC court, then the defendant filed for an appeal, and the judgement was no money owed to both parties. So I lost my contract money. What can I still do with the lien now? Am I able to ask for the amount of the contract still with a lien waiver? Again can I sell back to the defendant a lien waiver? Thanks

I went to court after the recording of the mechanic lien, I prevailed in SC court, then the defendant filed for an appeal, and the judgement was no money owed to both parties. So I lost my contract money. What can I still do with the lien now? Am I able to ask for the amount of the contract still with a lien waiver? Again can I sell back to the defendant a lien waiver? Thanks

CaliforniaLawsuit

Ended up, with a client who also is licensed to practice law. And the weirdest thing was that as a lawyer, he sure did act in misconduct, acted to give false statements, just what ever it took for him not to pay for the repairs which I completed. Now he is asking me to release my erroneous lien off his property or he be seeking Legal action me. Wow!

1 reply

May 22, 2019
I'm very sorry to hear about that - I can't imagine how frustrating it must be. First, it's worth noting that judgments are always appealable. So, where an appellate judgment does not come down in the claiamant's favor, they can petition the state's supreme court to hear the case. Of course, there is significant cost and time that would go into such an appeal, and the claimant would need to establish grounds for why the appeal should be heard. But, if the opposing party clearly lied in order to obtain their judgment, and if there is documentation and evidence to back up the claim for payment and show that the opposing party was behaving untruthfully, then that might serve as a good basis for an appeal.

While I'm not sure I have enough information here to fully understand your situation, there are some general ideas that should be true here.

Regarding what happens to a filed lien after a judgment finds no payment is owed - it may come down to exactly what the suit was about. If the suit was over the validity of the filed lien, then, conceivably, a claimant losing such an action would likely not have much of a choice with their lien claim. Typically, such an action would discharge a lien, or at the very least, the lien would be left invalid and unenforceable.

But where a lawsuit does not specifically address the lien claim itself, the claimant may have some options in proceeding to enforce their lien claim (or to at least threaten to enforce it). In fact, if the action was over the contract between the parties, § 8430(b) of the California Civil Code may even permit a lien claim that isn't specifically tied to the contract ("The lien is not limited in amount by the contract price for the work of improvement..."). However, without more information, it's hard to determine just what further action would be appropriate - and consulting a local construction attorney would help. They'll be able to review the facts and circumstances of your situation and advise on how best to proceed.

Finally, if the previously-litigated dispute determined that no additional payment was owed for the work that was performed, then there may not be much for the claimant to do with their lien claim. If no foreclosure action has been brought, conceivably, the claimant could file an action to enforce the lien. However, it would likely be quite easy for an owner to challenge the validity of the underlying lien where there's a court judgment showing that additional payment is not owed for the work which was performed.

Regarding the ability to demand payment in exchange for the release of the lien - a claimant can always attempt to condition their release on the receipt of payment - and generally, that's a common move for lien claimants. After all, that's the whole point of the lien - to get paid. But, as mentioned above, if a court has ruled that no debt is owed, it will be hard for a claimant to justify their demand, and refusing to release a lien that's obviously invalid and unenforceable might result in liability for damages and costs suffered by the owner in removing the lien claim.

Lastly, since you'd mentioned this customer is a lawyer and has acted untruthfully - when lawyers act unethically, they are subject to penalty from their state's bar association. So, if you believe this attorney has lied or cheated in an attempt to get out of having to pay a debt, you can always make a complaint to the California state bar. Though, such a report would need to be coupled with evidence to prove the wrongdoing, and where the attorney has a judgment in hand, that wrongdoing might be hard to prove.

Considering this dispute has already been litigated, and considering the customer is a licensed attorney, it would be wise to consult a local attorney before deciding how to proceed here. As mentioned above, they'll be able to take a deeper look into the situation and advise on how best to proceed.
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