In American Interior Constr. & Blinds, Inc. v. Benjamin’s Desk, LLC, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania addressed the service requirements of a notice of intent to file a mechanics’ lien under Pennsylvania’s Mechanics’ Lien Law sec. 1501. At issue was whether the subcontractor had properly served the notice of intent, which the Lien Law at sec. 1501(d) required to be served “by and adult in the same manner as a writ of summons or assumpsit.” The notice of intent was served by Federal Express courier. In seeking to dismiss the lien through preliminary objections, the owner argued that service by Federal Express courier was improper—relying on Lien Law precedent that strictly enforced the notice service requirements. The trial court granted the owner’s preliminary objections, and dismissed the mechanics’ lien.
In construing the Lien Law and the Rules of Civil Procedure, the Superior Court reversed the trial court and remanded the case. While not expressly authorizing service of the notice of intent by Federal Express courier, the Superior Court ruled that technical noncompliance with the Rules of Civil Procedure was excusable absent “intent to stall the judicial machinery or actual prejudice.” The court further noted that the owner received actual notice and that no party alleged an intent to stall or prejudice.
American Interior Constr. raises a question about the continued applicability of strict compliance with Lien Law service requirements. Until the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania weights in, prudent practioners should nevertheless continue to operate on the assumption that the courts will apply the Lien Law strictly.
Click on the following link to read the appeal: http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Superior/out/Opinion%20%20ReversedRemanded%20%2010391095753448319.pdf?cb=1.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss these issues, please call Gaetano Piccirilli at 215.569.3699, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mr. Piccirilli is a Partner in the firm’s litigation department and devotes part of his practice to counseling clients in the real estate and construction industries.
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