Survey of 2011 Amendments to California's Mechanic's Lien Statutory Scheme and California Court Of Appeal Decisions in the Mechanic's Lien Area

Survey of 2011 Amendments to California's Mechanic's Lien Statutory Scheme and California Court Of Appeal Decisions in the Mechanic's Lien Area

Get the latest analysis on California's amendment to its Mechanic's Lien Law. In the Analysis, William M. Hensley examines the current statutory provisions and discusses how these provisions will change, effective July 1, 2012. The Analysis also examines recent California appellate court decisions on mechanic's liens. Mr. Hensley writes:

I. INTRODUCTION

     Senate Bill 189 and Assembly Bill 457 were signed into law by the California governors and chaptered, respectively, on September 30, 2010 and early August 2009. Together, they contain some of the most extensive revisions of the mechanic's lien statutes since 1969 (which really made few revisions to statutory language harkening back to an 1872 codification of this law), with a few of the revisions already effective as of January 1, 2011 under Assembly Bill 457 and the bulk of them taking effect on July 1, 2012 under Senate Bill 189. Much of this Article is devoted to a survey of these amendments and revisions to the mechanic's lien statutory scheme.

     Also, the California Courts of Appeal were busy with some interesting decisions on mechanic's liens, some published and some unpublished, during 2011. An examination of the more interesting decisions is undertaken here after surveying the change in landscape made by Senate Bill 189 and Assembly Bill 457.

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IV. SIGNIFICANT 2011 CALIFORNIA DECISION, PUBLISHED AND UNPUBLISHED, DEALING WITH THE MECHANIC'S LIEN LAW

     2011 saw some interesting case law on mechanic's lien issues, some published and others unpublished in nature. We now review some of the most noteworthy in this substantive area of California law.

     Ball v. Steadfast-BLK [enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers], starting rhetorically with the question "What's in a name?", does go on to answer the question in the context of a mechanic's lien foreclosure action where the trial court concluded that an individual contractor using an erroneous fictitious business name was unlicensed and disqualified to proceed in the foreclosure action. The subsequent judgment of dismissal of the lien foreclosure claim was reversed by the Third District Court of Appeal. This appellate court determined that the Contractors' State License Law (CSLL) allowed the individually licensed contractor to proceed because the fictitious business name is not among the categories of individuals or entities defined by the CSLL. Although the Legislature was silent about the consequences of conducting business under more than one name in one specific CSLL provision, CSLL expressly does allow for disciplinary action under another provision which does not indicate that there is a civil action penalty for violative conduct.

(footnotes omitted)

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