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By: Jake Carroll
While every construction law practitioner should be aware of the numerous technical requirements of Georgia’s lien law, last week, the Georgia Court of Appeals sent yet another reminder that there is little room for error when it comes to deadlines in the lien statutes. In Bibler Masonry Contractors, Inc. v. J. T. Turner Construction Co., Inc., 2017 WL 922955 (Ga. Ct. App. March 6, 2017), the court upheld an entry of summary judgment declaring a lien void, when the underlying affidavit of non-payment was filed more than 60 days after the date listed on the waiver and release.
While the strict construction of lien deadlines is nothing new, the appellate court upheld the finding even after considering evidence submitted in a motion for reconsideration which disclosed that the waiver and release was actually executed within the 60-day period, but was backdated to the date of substantial completion of the project. The appellate court disregarded the evidence of the actual date of execution, and held that the materialman must file any notice of non-payment within 60 days of the date shown on the waiver and release, consistent with the plain language of the statute.
For construction law practitioners, the lessons from Bibler are straightforward: in order to recover under the materialmen’s lien statutes, the party must strictly follow the procedures of Georgia’s lien statutes. For contractors and other materialmen, it is better to be safe than sorry. Deadlines for filing must be followed, no matter what facts or ambiguities you think may change your statutory obligations. This opinion comes on the heels of the October decision in Lang v. Brand-Vaughan Lumber Co., Inc., 792 S.E.2d 461 (Ga. Ct. App. 2016), which also required the materialman to strictly follow the procedures of Georgia’s lien and judgment statutes, and leaving no room for error.
For any questions, contact Jake Carroll at [email protected].