Strict Construction of Florida Lien Law

Experienced construction attorneys are well aware of the mantra that Florida’s lien law is strictly construed which is why they harp on importance of following all statutory deadlines and forms set forth in Chapter 713. This principle was again hammered home by the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Rabil v. Seaside Builders, LLC, 42 Fla. L. Weekly D 1905 (Fla. 4th DCA August 30, 2017).

In this case, Seaside Builders was hired to build a single-family residence. Disputes arose on the Project and in May 2016, Seaside Builders recorded a claim of lien and filed suit to foreclose on the claim of lien. Thereafter, the homeowners posted a lien transfer bond and recorded a notice of contest of lien. On July 27, 2016 the clerk recorded the certificate of transfer bond and mailed a copy of the notice of contest of lien to Seaside Builders.

In October 2016, the homeowners filed a motion to release the bond and dismiss the foreclosure complaint because Seaside Builders had failed to suit against the lien transfer bond within sixty days of the recording of the notice of contest of lien. The clerk’s office refused to release the transfer bond without a court order.

The trial court held a hearing on homeowner’s motions wherein Seaside Builders argued that the motions should be denied on “principles of equity and excusable neglect” because Seaside Builders and its counsel both claimed that they were unaware of the lien transfer bond and the notice of contest of lien. The trial court took exception with the fact that homeowner failed to send copies of the lien transfer bond and notice of contest to Seaside Builders’ counsel. The trial court also found that the notice of contest of lien failed to advise Seaside Builders that they needed to file suit on the lien transfer bond within sixty days. Based on these findings, the trial court denied homeowner’s motion and permitted Seaside Builders to amend its complaint to pursue the lien transfer bond. Homeowner’s appealed the trial court’s decision.

On appeal, homeowner’s focused on the fact that they followed the statutory procedure in posting the transfer bond and recording the notice of contest of lien. Notably, on appeal Seaside Builders admitted that they received the notice of contest of lien but claimed it was received by a secretary rather than a corporate officer or its counsel. However, Seaside Builders argued that Section 713.22(2) violates due process because it does not require service on opposing counsel or that lienor be informed that an additional suit must be filed. The appellate court rejected these arguments and held that the statutory scheme in Chapter 713 must be strictly construed. Accordingly, the trial court’s decision was reversed with instruction to release the transfer bond and discharge the lis pendens.

The Seaside Builders decision demonstrates the importance of not only having an experienced construction attorney but also knowledge staff. Under the statute the notice of contest of lien would have been sent by the clerk’s office via certified mail. In this situation, I would guess that regardless of whether the individual who receives this package knows what a contest of lien is, that the individual would bring this package to attention of the company’s owner and/or counsel.

Noon Leads Group

I am excited to be the featured speaker at the Noon Leads Group meeting on June 6, 2017 at the Greater Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. My presentation will focus on tips for hiring a contractor to work at your home or business.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has various Leads Groups that are dedicated to developing strong business relationships among chamber members; the groups are comprised of only one representative from a specific business category, thereby ensuring that no competition exists for business leads within the groups.

The Noon Leads Group meets every Tuesday at noon and the meetings feature a guest speaker whom provides a lite lunch for the group. Visitors are always welcome. I’m also excited to announce that the Chair of our Noon Leads Group will be hosting a Networking Lunch & Learn at the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce on June 7th at 11:30 a.m.

Noon Leads Group

I am excited to be the featured speaker at the Noon Leads Group meeting on January 31, 2017 at the Greater Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. My presentation will focus on tips for hiring a contractor to work at your home or business.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has various Leads Groups that are dedicated to developing strong business relationships among chamber members; the groups are comprised of only one representative from a specific business category, thereby ensuring that no competition exists for business leads within the groups.

The Noon Leads Group meets every Tuesday at noon and most meetings feature a guest speaker whom provides a lite lunch for the group. The Noon Leads Group hosting a “Visitors Day” on February 7, 2017 where everyone is invited to join the group to learn more about our group.

Florida Lawyers Network

I am excited to be one of the featured speakers at the next Florida Lawyers Network (FLN) Luncheon on November 30th. My presentation will provide an overview of the Florida Lien Law.

FLN is a statewide network of highly-skilled and well-qualified lawyers in each area of practice throughout Florida. Each Member must have at least five (5) years of experience and must be well-versed and knowledgeable in his or her designated area of practice.

Only three (3) attorneys in each area of practice are selected for membership in each Chapter, and this gives FLN great diversity while maintaining essential exclusivity.

Since FLN first began, hundreds of members of the Florida Bar have joined one of many “FLN – Chapters” and qualified and seasoned attorneys that are ready, willing and able to build long-term connections with experienced members of the Florida Bar are invited to learn more about this outstanding network of professionals.

Super Lawyers 2016

Leonardo Ortiz has once again been named to the Florida Rising Stars list in Construction Litigation in Florida for 2016. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state receive this honor. The selection for this respected list is made by the research team at Super Lawyers.

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a rigorous multi-phased process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates, and peer reviews by practice area.

The Rising Stars list are published nationwide in Super Lawyers magazines and in leading city and regional magazines across the country. For more information about Super Lawyers, go to superlawyers.com.