Florida Construction Litigation: Fraudulent Liens
In Florida, construction contractors and subcontractors have valuable rights to protect themselves against non-payment and underpayment. Indeed, if Florida construction contractors are not paid for the labor and materials that they provide, then they can use a valuable collection tool known as a construction lien (mechanic’s lien).
Under Florida’s construction lien statute, unpaid contractors can obtain a lien that puts many different legal restrictions on the property that they built or materially improved. In fact, if you own a property with a lien on it, you may not even be able to sell the property.
As a property owner or manager, having a construction lien placed on your property is incredibly frustrating, particularly if the construction lien is wholly fraudulent or if the value of the lien is deeply inflated. Here, our top-rated West Palm Beach construction litigation attorneys explain the remedies and legal options that property owners have in cases where a fraudulent lien has been obtained.
Fraudulent Liens Under Florida Law
Fraudulent construction liens are controlled by Chapter 713.31 of the Florida Statutes. Under this section of Florida law, the penalties for placing an illegitimate construction lien can be extremely severe. First of all, a plaintiff in a fraudulent lien case can seek compensation for:
- The full value of their economic losses;
- Full attorneys’ fees;
- Court costs; and
- Punitive damages.
Additionally, the party that filed the fraudulent lien is subject to being charged with a felony criminal offense. As a construction lien is such an especially powerful collection tool, Florida takes allegations of intentional or flagrant misuse very seriously.
There is a High Standard to Prove a Construction Lien is Fraudulent
It should be noted that proving that a construction lien constitutes fraud can be very challenging. To do so, you will need to clear a high legal bar. Indeed, you cannot simply prove that the lien was invalid or was placed at an inflated price. While that is a necessary element, you must also be able to prove that the invalid construction lien was one of the following:
- Willfully placed for work not performed;
- Willfully and materially exaggerated in value; or
- That the lienor acted in a grossly negligent manner.
Still, even though this is a high bar, if a fraudulent lien was placed against your property, you need to take action to protect the rights of yourself and your business. If you believe that a fraudulent construction lien has been placed on your property, it is imperative that you contact an experienced Florida construction law attorney for immediate assistance.
Request Your Free Construction Law Consultation Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our South Florida commercial litigation lawyers have extensive experience handling all types of construction lien cases. To find out what we can do for you and your business, please contact us today to set up a free review of your case. We have offices in West Palm Beach and Miami, and serve construction law clients throughout the region, including in Jupiter, Lake Park, Riviera Beach and Juno Beach.