My wife and I inherited my recently deceased step-father's landscaping business. We are shutting it down. We have one affluent customer who is refusing to pay a $46k bill. She signed a release of work at a per man per hour rate (which I have). She used more man hours than she anticipated (this was during the ice storm earlier this year). She says that she doesn’t think that our employees worked as many hours as they are claiming. Looks like we've missed the lien deadline. Anything we can do?
The legal analysis would start with a review of the contract with the owner, and then extend to any communications which have occurred.
You should consider preparing a letter to mail by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the owner to set out the facts and to demand the relief that you want. Attach to the letter the contract, invoice, and photographs of the completed work. Make sure that your letter is professional and business like as it may be evidence later.
If the customer does not respond or respond satisfactorily, you should consider filing suit in small claims court, using the letter as evidence.
If the property is the owner's homestead (meaning that the owner owns the property and lives there) then your contract with the owner would have to satisfy the requirements of Texas Property Code sections 53.254, et seq., which requires specified homestead lien warnings, signing by husband and wife, and recordation in the county property records.
You really should retain a construction attorney to review and evaluate your legal position based on the contract and pertinent documents. The right to be entitled to file a mechanic's lien is set out in Texas Property Code Chapter 53, and you really need to make sure that if you file a lien, you have properly and appropriately done so.
Filing an invalid lien could subject you to liability under the Texas Fraudulent Lien Act, and you could be liable for statutory damages of $10,000, or actual damages, whichever is greater, plus attorney's fees. Facing such a claim would add insult to injury.