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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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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