South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Lien Attested to by Lien Filing Service is Valid
Description

Appeals court held that a mechanics' lien filed by a lien filing service for a client was not frivolous or invalid because it was attested to by the filing service. The filing service was the authorized agent of the claimant, so could attest to the lien.

Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words

Mechanics' Lien; Attestation; Validity; Authorized Agent

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

The Williamses were developing real estate. They hired Athletic to do site preparation work before construction. The work was estimated to cost $419,925. After Athletic had been paid $155,000, the Williamses told Athletic it was too slow and to cease work. They claimed they paid Athletic more than it was due for the work to date. Athletic claimed the work was 90 percent done and it was owed $276,825 for the preparation work and some other work. Athletic filed a mechanic's lien against the property. The lien was submitted by a lien filing service. One of its employees signed the attestation clause when it was submitted. The Williamses moved to have the lien stricken as frivolous because the attestation was invalid. It should have been signed by an officer of Athletic or their attorney. The trial court agreed and released the lien as frivolous and invalid. Athletic appealed.

Decision

Reversed and remanded. A mechanic's lien is invalid absent evidence that the claimant attested to its validity. The lien statute states that the attestation clause must be signed by "the claimant or some person authorized to act on his or her behalf." The claimant's authorized agent, the lien filing service, was authorized by claimant to sign the attestation clause, so the filing was not invalid. Furthermore, even if the filing had been improper and invalid, it would not necessarily mean that the claim was frivolous. A frivolous claim is one that lacks reasonable cause or is clearly excessive; that was not the case here, nor was the filing invalid.

Citation

Williams v. Athletic Field, ---P.3d--- (2006 WL 2130455, Ct. App., Wash., 2006)

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