Daystar Sills, Inc. v. Anchor Investments, Inc. ,(Del. Super., April 12, 2007), read opinion here.
This case involved a mechanics’ lien claim based on Chapter 27 of Title 25 of the Delaware Code. The defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss claiming that the owners of the property were not mentioned in the Statement of Claim in violation of Section 2712(b)(2) and that the contractor failed to segregate his claim in accordance with Section 2713 of Title 25 of the Delaware Code. The Motion to Dismiss was also based on the statute of limitations. Namely, the argument was that the mechanics’ lien was not filed within 180 days of the date when the contractor submitted his final invoice to the owner or reputed owner. Apparently the contractor was ejected from the job site due to alleged failure to comply with a material timetable and pursuant to the AIA Document A201-1997 that was used. An issue arose about whether a final bill could have been submitted if the contractor was ejected from the job site. The contractor relied on Section 3507(c) of Title 6 of the Delaware Code which entitles a contractor to submit a final invoice when the agreed upon work is fully completed. At the Motion to Dismiss stage, the court determined there were too many factual issues to grant a Motion to Dismiss, especially when the motion was converted to a Motion for Summary Judgment in light of the court being asked to consider matters outside of the pleadings.
In addition, there was a claim for quantum meruit which the owner sought to dismiss based on the fact that there was an existing contract. The general rule is that when a relationship is governed by an express contract, quantum meruit claims are barred, however, there is an exception which applies where, for example, provisions of the contract relating the change orders have been waived by the parties such as through course or performance. (See footnotes 18 and 19.) See also footnote 23 for the elements of quantum meruit. The court also noted that quantum meruit might be pursued against the owners of various condominiums that were the subject of the construction dispute. Lastly, the court determined that the waiver of liens did not apply to either the common areas or to the new owners of the condominiums that were the subject of the construction project.