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Publication

February 12, 2003Published Article

Circuit Law Lien Decision May Have Statewide Ramifications Regarding Construction Lien Claims

A Dane County Circuit Court Judge recently invalidated a construction lien because the lien was not signed by the claimant or the claimant's attorney.

A lien service company signed and filed a construction lien on behalf of a subcontractor. The lien service company and subcontractor entered into an agreement wherein the lien service company would, as the agent and attorney-in-fact, sign and file construction liens. The subcontractor commenced a lien foreclosure action. The owner moved to dismiss, arguing that (1) the Wisconsin State statute requires that a lien be signed by an "attorney" and (2) the subcontractor lien at issue was signed by an agent who was not an attorney. The Court granted summary judgment in favor of owner, ruling that a non-attorney agent cannot sign a lien. The Court left open the issue as to whether a corporate officer or director could sign the claim for lien.

The Court's decision does not preclude a non-attorney from signing a pre-lien notice or the notice of intent to file claim for lien.

In light of this decision, every potential lien claimant should consult with their attorney before signing and filing a construction lien in Wisconsin or, if using a lien service, should make sure their lien service is in compliance with all applicable laws.

For more information, please contact Dereck Brower at drbrower@michaelbest.com or (262) 956-6537, or Dave Krutz at dakrutz@michaelbest.com or (262) 956-6550.

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