Image courtesy of Flickr (Licensed) by © Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com
Image courtesy of Flickr (Licensed) by © Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Perfecting a statutory mechanic’s and materialman’s lien under current Texas law is difficult.  The statutes are less than clear and chocked full of traps and deadlines that trip up many contractors and material suppliers.  Fortunately, lien perfection typically results in payment or pre-trial settlement once foreclosure is threatened.  However, when payment is not forthcoming, a claimant must timely file a lawsuit to foreclose the lien. 

On more than one occasion I’ve represented contractors who managed to dot every ‘i’ and cross  every ‘t’ necessary to perfect a lien claim only to have a trial court deny foreclosure because he “just didn’t feel right about it”, “foreclosure seems vindictive” or because in their experience, “its customary that the lien will get paid whenever the property is sold.”  WHAT?!?  My unstated response is: “You can’t do that!”  or “Judge, you are rewriting the law based upon whims and feelings.  My client has no way of getting paid without foreclosure.”  Unfortunately, most of my clients were either unwilling or unable to appeal.

This week lien claimants won an important victory in Crawford Services, Inc., v. Skillman International Firm, L.L.C., when the Texas Fifth Court of Appeals published an opinion reversing and rendering judgment from Dallas County.  Specifically, the appellate court held that a Dallas County District court abused its discretion by refusing to foreclose a perfected mechanic’s lien.
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Image courtesy of Flickr (Licensed) by © Mark Fischer
Image courtesy of Flickr (Licensed) by © Mark Fischer

Supreme Court of Texas:  The Economic Loss Rule bars general contractor’s negligence and negligent misrepresentation claims against design professionals.

It is not uncommon for an owner to hire architects and engineers to design the owner’s project.  The owner then seeks bids from multiple general contractors and contracts with the general contractor to build the project.  No contract exists between the architect and the general contractor so they are referred to as “contractual strangers.”

Can then a general contractor recover damages against the design professional in negligence if, after construction commences, many costly errors are discovered in the engineer’s work?  On June 20, 2014, Texas Supreme Court answered in LAN/STV vs. Martin K. Eby Construction Company, Inc., that they could not.
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