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Who do I file lien against? Do I file a Nebraska lien on the New York company? How should I go about getting paid?


My issue is.... Subcontracted work for a New York based company who was hired by a national rental car company to do all the low voltage wiring etc.. at the newly constructed parking facility at the Omaha airport. My self and one of my techs worked 3 weeks, approx 45 hrs a week. Company has not paid a penny and giving lame excuses as to why.. We walked out with approx. 85% of the job finished.. The New York company had 2 lead techs onsite when we pulled off.... Who do I file lien against? Or what should I do to ensure I get paid... I already paid my tech for the hours she worked.. what options or choices do I have? Thank you.

1 reply

Jul 10, 2019
These are good questions, and I'm sorry to hear about all the trouble you've had on this job. When a mechanics lien is filed, that lien is filed against the project property - it attaches directly to the land and improvements where work is performed. So, the lien laws of the state where work was performed will the be ones that apply. So, regardless of where a company is located, if the work was done in Nebraska, Nebraska's lien laws would apply.

With that in mind, let's look at tools for getting paid in Nebraska.

Notice of Intent to Lien

First, mechanics liens are typically one of the strongest tools available, if not the strongest tool available for recovering payment. But, not every dispute requires a mechanics lien, necessarily. Often, the mere warning or threat of filing a lien claim will be enough to compel payment. By sending a document like a Notice of Intent to Lien to the property owner and/or the customer, a claimant may be able to speed up payment without the need for actually proceeding with a lien claim. By showing that they're serious about getting paid and that they'll do whatever it takes, a claimant might be able to get the ball rolling. Plus, when a Notice of Intent to Lien is sent to the property owner in addition to the claimant's customer, that can put additional pressure on the customer to make sure everyone gets paid. For a little more on that idea, here's a great resource: What Is a Notice of Intent to Lien and Should You Send One?

Mechanics lien

Of course, if warnings, threats, or other methods aren't leading to payment, a claimant may need to think about pursuing a mechanics lien claim against the project property. Everybody hates mechanics liens, but property owners are particularly averse to them because it puts their title to the property in danger. Levelset discusses some of the ways mechanics liens can lead to payment here: How Do Mechanics Liens Work? 17 Ways a Lien Gets You Paid. For more information about the requirements and deadlines surrounding Nebraska lien claims, this page breaks down some of the most important considerations for Nebraska claimants: Nebraska Mechanics Lien Overview. Plus, here's a guide to filing a Nebraska lien, if that becomes necessary: How to File a Nebraska Mechanics Lien.

Other options

Of course, it's worth keeping other options in mind. There are a number of tools that might be available to recover payment beyond the mechanics lien process. For one, threatening or actually pursuing legal action might be an option. When payment isn't being made, claims like breach of contract, unjust enrichment, or a claim under prompt payment laws might be available. Like with a Notice of Intent to Lien, merely threatening to make a legal claim will often help to get the ball rolling, though pursuing a claim could ultimately become necessary.

Finally, keep in mind that if a lawsuit will be pursued (rather than a lien claim or some other remedy), it'd be wise to consult a Nebraska construction attorney before making any concrete decisions on that front - they'll be able to thoroughly assess your circumstances as well as any relevant documentation and advise on what remedies might be most appropriate.
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