ILNews

Judges order trial on couple’s responsibility to unpaid subcontractors

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.


 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  2. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

  3. She must be a great lawyer

  4. Ind. Courts - "Illinois ranks 49th for how court system serves disadvantaged" What about Indiana? A story today from Dave Collins of the AP, here published in the Benton Illinois Evening News, begins: Illinois' court system had the third-worst score in the nation among state judiciaries in serving poor, disabled and other disadvantaged members of the public, according to new rankings. Illinois' "Justice Index" score of 34.5 out of 100, determined by the nonprofit National Center for Access to Justice, is based on how states serve people with disabilities and limited English proficiency, how much free legal help is available and how states help increasing numbers of people representing themselves in court, among other issues. Connecticut led all states with a score of 73.4 and was followed by Hawaii, Minnesota, New York and Delaware, respectively. Local courts in Washington, D.C., had the highest overall score at 80.9. At the bottom was Oklahoma at 23.7, followed by Kentucky, Illinois, South Dakota and Indiana. ILB: That puts Indiana at 46th worse. More from the story: Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, Colorado, Tennessee and Maine had perfect 100 scores in serving people with disabilities, while Indiana, Georgia, Wyoming, Missouri and Idaho had the lowest scores. Those rankings were based on issues such as whether interpretation services are offered free to the deaf and hearing-impaired and whether there are laws or rules allowing service animals in courthouses. The index also reviewed how many civil legal aid lawyers were available to provide free legal help. Washington, D.C., had nearly nine civil legal aid lawyers per 10,000 people in poverty, the highest rate in the country. Texas had the lowest rate, 0.43 legal aid lawyers per 10,000 people in poverty. http://indianalawblog.com/archives/2014/11/ind_courts_illi_1.html

  5. A very thorough opinion by the federal court. The Rooker-Feldman analysis, in particular, helps clear up muddy water as to the entanglement issue. Looks like the Seventh Circuit is willing to let its district courts cruise much closer to the Indiana Supreme Court's shorelines than most thought likely, at least when the ADA on the docket. Some could argue that this case and Praekel, taken together, paint a rather unflattering picture of how the lower courts are being advised as to their duties under the ADA. A read of the DOJ amicus in Praekel seems to demonstrate a less-than-congenial view toward the higher echelons in the bureaucracy.

ADVERTISEMENT