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If customer threatens to sue to have an invalid lien released, can we just counter sue for full payment?

CaliforniaLawsuitMechanics Lien

We filed a lien on a property where we did a roof. Roof finaled and photographed and supported by Chief Building Inspector. Customer has not paid a dime. We let the lien expire because we were told could be as much as $15k to take to court (same amount as is owed and customer appears to not have ability to pay.) Customer sent demand to release the invalid lien or he will sue. Can we just counter sue in this situation? We are comfortable with our installation and witnesses, but don't want to put a lot of time and money into a customer who we don't think is employed etc. It was evident to us in the installation process that customer was avoiding our workers, etc and refused to answer phone, emails etc when it came to payment.

1 reply

Jul 5, 2018
I'm sorry to hear about that. In a situation where mechanics lien has expired, the property owner might very well sue in attempt to compel the release of the lien. However, as hinted at above, if an owner does initiate suit, the claimant would likely be able to bring their own counterclaims against that owner as long as the claims arise out of a related cause of action. Unfortunately, this would not revive a filed lien claim. Rather, it would be more akin to as if the claimant had filed a lawsuit for recovery in the first place. Recovery would come via litigation of the claims. Granted, if a claimant will be sued anyway, it might make sense to go on the offensive. Pursuing a counterclaim would add to any legal expenses incurred in a suit over lien removal, but it could also lead to a claimant's recovery. Further, when successful in a lawsuit, a claimant might be awarded attorney fees and expenses, too, dramatically reducing the cost of litigation. Ultimately, if suit is filed to compel the removal of a lien, the lien claimant will want to first consult a local construction attorney to decide how to proceed. They will be able to look into the circumstances surrounding the claim and advise a path for moving forward.
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