Promise to Pay Doesn’t Change Mechanic’s Lien Deadline

In a recent decision, D5 Iron Works, Inc. v. Danvers Fish & Game Club, Inc., & Others, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts ruled that an owner’s promise to make payment to the subcontractor did not excuse the subcontractor’s failure to timely file suit.

In the case, the general contractor was delinquent in paying the subcontractor. The subcontractor timely filed a Notice of Contract as well as a Statement of Account . Nevertheless, Massachusetts lien law requires that a lawsuit be filed within 90 days of filing the Statement of Account.

According to the Subcontractor, the project owner represented that the subcontractor would be paid. The subcontractor testified that it relied on that representation in not timely filing the lawsuit.

Consistent with its prior decisions, the court ruled that mechanic’s lien statutory deadlines are to be strictly enforced, and denied the subcontractor’s claims.* This case stands as a fresh reminder that the statutory deadlines for mechanic’s lien filings are enforced strictly, and not generally subject to extension or modification by private agreement. Contractors and subcontractors should take care to observe deadlines ardently in order to avoid losing their mechanic’s lien rights.

*At the time of this article, it remains unclear whether either party will appeal the decision, which went unpublished.

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