Oregon Court Decides When the End of Work Begins for Calculating Lien Deadline
In Oregon, a mechanic’s lien must be filed within 75 days after you stop providing labor, goods, or equipment. In a case before the Oregon Court of Appeals, Bethlehem Construction completed their scope of work for general contractor Abeinsa on a power plant construction project. Bethlehem left the project and sent Abeinsa a final invoice. Eight months later, Abeinsa asked Bethlehem to come back to the project to repair some work damaged by another contractor on the project. This new work was agreed to and performed pursuant to a change order to the original contract.
Why Bethlehem’s right to file a lien came in to question
Although Bethlehem had not filed a lien for unpaid work within the 8 months prior to the change order, it did file a lien after completion of the additional work. The question before the Court was whether Bethlehem lost its right to file a lien since it did not file within 75 days from the end of the original work or whether the completion of the additional work restarted the 75-day lien filing period.
The Court’s Decision
The Court found that the 75-day lien filing period restarted after completion of the additional work, even for money owed on the original work. The Court based its decision on the fact that the additional work was performed under a change order which referred to the contract for the original work. This indicated to the Court that original and change order work were intended by Abeinsa and Bethlehem to be “two parts of one single contract.” The Court also noted the change order work was not just trivial work to complete the original scope of work but instead was significant work in addition to the original work.
Pennsylvania Company Files $3 Million Lien for Installation of Pipeline
APP Minerals, LLC owns over 258 acres of property in Marshall County, Pennsylvania and sought to construct a freshwater pipeline on the property. APP contracted with Auman Bros. Construction, LLC for construction of the pipeline in late 2018. Aumen worked on the project until April of 2019. Aumen claims it was not paid for $3.9 million worth of labor, materials, and equipment and filed a mechanic’s lien against the property for the unpaid amount. Aumen also filed a lawsuit for unjust enrichment against APP and seeks to have the court enforce the mechanic’s lien against the property. The case is currently pending in Marshal County Circuit Court.
Tennessee Legislature Pushing to Change Mechanic’s Lien Laws
A new bill is before the Tennessee legislature which will give more time for lower tiered subcontractors to serve notice of intent to file a mechanic’s lien for unpaid goods or services. Tennessee law currently requires subcontractors serve the notice of intent to file a lien within 90 days after the last day of the month in which the work was performed or the goods were furnished. The proposed bill would increase this notice period from 90 days to 12 months from the last day of the month. This bill would also change owner’s obligation to release and pay retainage from 90 days to 30 days after substantial completion of the work. Other bills before the Tennessee legislature would also prohibit “pay-if-paid” clauses in construction subcontracts and limit recovery of attorney’s fees for owners who successfully void mechanic’s liens filed against project property.