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Current Developments in the Commercial Divisions of the
New York State Courts by Schlam Stone & Dolan LLP
Posted: January 16, 2019

Subcontractor Prevails on Lien Law Claim

On January 9, 2019, the Second Department issued a decision in C.C.C. Renovations, Inc. v. Victoria Towers Dev. Corp., 2019 NY Slip Op. 00089, holding that a subcontractor should have prevailed on a Lien Law claim, explaining:

Lien Law § 3 provides that a contractor who performs labor or furnishes materials for the improvement of real property with the consent, or at the request of, the owner shall have a lien for the principal and interest, of the value, or the agreed price, of such labor or materials upon the real property improved or to be improved and upon such improvement, from the time of filing a notice of such lien. The lienor must establish the amount of the outstanding debt by submitting proof of either the price of its contract or the value of the labor and materials supplied. The amount of the lien is limited by the contract under which it is claimed, and ordinarily a lienor is bound by the price term contained in the contract to which it is a party.

The lienor’s right to recover is further limited by principles of subrogation. Thus, no individual mechanic’s lien can exceed the total amount owed by the owner to the general contractor at the time of the filing of the notice of lien. The subcontractor’s right to recover is derivative of the right of the general contractor to recover, and if the general contractor is not owed any amount under its contract with the owner at the time the subcontractor’s notice of lien is filed, then the subcontractor may not recover.

Here, the plaintiff established its prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on its causes of action to foreclose the mechanic’s liens it filed through evidence establishing, inter alia, the amounts owed for the services it provided at the property under the relevant subcontracts, and that those amounts did not exceed the amount owed by the owners to the general contractor, Blue Diamond. In opposition, Victoria Towers and Westchester Fire failed to raise a triable issue of fact.

(Internal quotations and citations omitted).

We frequently litigate disputes over the sale or leasing of, or construction relating to, commercial property. Contact Schlam Stone & Dolan partner John Lundin at jlundin@schlamstone.com if you are involved in a dispute regarding a commercial real estate transaction or construction.

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