Contractor’s Telephone Calls to Inform Owner of the Status of the Project Can Constitute Labor for Determining Last Date of Work for Mechanic’s Lien
Kegler Brown Construction Newsletter June 1, 2003
Courts in Ohio have traditionally been very liberal in determining what constitutes a last date of work on a construction project for purposes of determining the expiration of a contractor's or subcontractor's mechanic's lien rights. Basically Courts have ruled that if the work is necessary to complete the project (even if a relatively minor punchlist item) then this is a legitimate last date of work so long as the purpose of the work was not to artificially extend lien rights.
The principle was vindicated and may have been extended in a recent trial court decision by Judge Travis of the Franklin County Common Pleas Court in the case of Gauer-Jeffrey Design & Construction v. Roderick H. Dillon, Case No. 02CVE-04-4570.
Judge Travis ruled that a project manager's telephone calls to inform the owner of the status of certain items constituted labor for the purposes of determining the last date of work. He then applied the general rule that if the labor and materials were provided at the request and with the knowledge of the owner, to remedy defects in the original work, this is sufficient to establish a new period from which the time for filing the Affidavit of Mechanic's Lien is to be computed.
Therefore, subcontractors and contractors may justifiably rely upon the owner's request to remedy certain defects as the basis for determining their last date of work for the purposes of filing a mechanic's lien. The interesting twist on this case is that even something like walking the job site to inspect the work or contacting the customer to report the status of work may also constitute "labor" and be relied upon for the last date of work.