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Don't Lean On Mechanic's Liens When Materials Haven't Benfited The Construction

Thursday, December 04, 2008 04:36 pm

Don't Lean On Mechanic's Liens When Materials Haven't Benfited The Construction

Mechanic's liens are meant to protect those who furnish labor and materials during a construction project, though that protection doesn't necessarily extend to equipment that sits idle and/or unused at the jobsite.

A number of past cases have considered the question of whether equipment downtime charges are lienable items. They can be. But the ruling in a recent case --Missouri Land Development Specialties, LLC v. Concord Excavating Company, LLC, et al, Thomas Cummings, and First Service Bank, Nos. ED89112 and ED89116 (Mo. App. 2008)-- demonstrates just how hard it can be to recoup for unused machinery time without all the proper lien ingredients.

Missouri: Costs for machines-only idle time are not lienable

Prior to Missouri Land, no Missouri case had directly considered whether downtime charges are lienable.Studying the general definition as well as the specific nature of the downtime in this case, the appellate court ruled that such charges were not lienable since the idle items in question were pieces of equipment only -- not laborers. The claimant had ceased performance for nonpayment, leaving one dozer, two trucks, one excavator and a lift on the job site without any operators. The court rejected the claimant's argument that its equipment downtime charges could be considered labor costs. Equipment is necessary to a laborer's performance, the court ackn [...]

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