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Judges order trial on couple’s responsibility to unpaid subcontractors

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a decision by a DeKalb Superior judge that Fred and Mary Anna Feitler were personally liable for unpaid bills to subcontractors on their home, which was being constructed on land owned by a trust to which they were sole beneficiaries.

The Feitlers contracted with Cedar Creek Homes to build a home on real estate in DeKalb County. The couple and the contractor agreed that no mechanic’s lien could attach to the property in the event of nonpayment. A mortgage taken out by the Feitlers paid more than $366,000 of the $478,225 contract price of the home, but Cedar Creek went out of business before finishing the home and did not pay subcontractors J. Laurie Commercial Floors LLC, JM Woodworking Co., and Springfield Enterprises Inc. for work completed on the home.

The subcontractors sued the Feitlers, arguing they should be able secure money judgments against the couple, with J. Laurie and JM also arguing they should be able to hold mechanic’s liens against the real estate. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the subcontractors.

The Feitlers and the land trust argued that J. Laurie and J.M. can’t hold a mechanic’s lien against the property and that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on the question of personal liability. In Fred C. Feitler, Mary Anna Feitler, and the Feitler Family Trust v. Springfield Enterprises, Inc., J. Laurie Commercial Floors, LLC, d/b/a Jack Lauries Floor Designs, JM Woodworking Co., 17A04-1206-PL-297, the appellate court agreed with the Feitlers, reversing and concluding the question of personal liability should go to trial.

The COA found that the Feitlers qualify as owners pursuant to the mechanic’s lien, so the agreement they entered into with Cedar Creek is binding on J. Laurie. The Feitlers entered into an agreement with JM after Cedar Creek went out of business for JM to complete the cabinetry in the home, but did not pay JM. The Feitlers claimed JM’s failure to file a pre-lien notice pursuant to I.C. 32-28-3-1(i) prevents it from holding a mechanic’s lien. The judges agreed, finding the plain language of the statute makes the filing of a pre-lien notice a condition precedent to the right to hold a lien.

The designated evidence creates a question as to whether Cedar Creek was paid off by the Feitlers, which would prevent the subcontractors from having a claim against them under the personal liability notice statute.

The judges ordered summary judgment entered in favor of the Feitlers regarding whether JM and J. Laurie could hold a mechanic’s lien against the property and ordered a trial on the question of personal liability.


 

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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