In a previous post, I discussed how strictly Kentucky courts interpret mechanics’ lien statutes. So, what if a contractor, subcontractor, or material supplier makes a mistake in a lien statement? Stated another way, can a mechanics’ lien statement be amended? According to Hellman Lumber Co. Inc. v. Landrum, 639 S.W.2d 379 (Ky. App. 1982), the answer is yes – if the amended lien statement is filed on time. The court in Hellman also stated that a timely-filed amended mechanics’ lien statement takes the place of the original lien statement for purposes of calculating the deadline to file a lawsuit to enforce the lien.
Specifically, in the Hellman case, Hellman Lumber Co. was a subcontractor on a private construction project. It filed a mechanics’ lien and mistakenly listed its claim amount as $980.13. The correct claim amount was $8,051.31. After realizing its mistake, Hellman Lumber Co. filed an amended lien statement that corrected the claim amount, and it did so within KRS 376.080’s six-month deadline to file mechanics’ lien statements on private projects.
At this point, Hellman Lumber Co. had two mechanics’ lien statements for the same claim. KRS 376.090 requires lawsuits to enforce mechanics’ liens on private projects to be filed within one year of the date on which the lien statement was filed. So, in addition to the issue of whether the amended lien statement was valid, another issue in the Hellman case was which lien statement triggered KRS 376.090’s one-year deadline – the original statement or the amended statement?
If the original lien statement triggered the one-year deadline, then the amended lien would not have been enforceable because Hellman Lumber Co. filed its lawsuit more than one year after the filing of its original lien statement but less than one year after it filed the amended lien statement. The court ruled that the lien enforcement lawsuit was timely, stating: “It is the opinion of this court that a corrected or Amended Statement of Lien, filed within the statutory period, to replace an incorrect Statement of Lien previously filed, becomes the original claim or statement and that the one-year period for filing [an] action to enforce the lien commences with the filing of the corrected statement.”
Importantly, nothing in the Hellman case relaxes Kentucky’s rule of strictly interpreting the mechanics’ lien statutes. It simply provides 1) that an amended lien statement can be filed as long as it is timely under KRS 376.080 and 2) that the amended lien statement takes the place of the original lien statement for purposes of calculating when the lien enforcement lawsuit must be filed.
If you need help with mechanics’ liens on Kentucky public or private construction projects, contact Loghry Law, PLLC.