King Construction, Inc. v. Plaza Four Realty, LLC, Del. Supr., (July 15, 2009), read opinion here.

This 30-page Delaware Supreme Court decision explains in great detail the requirements for filing a valid mechanics’ lien claim in Delaware. This short post is only intended to highlight key points. In particular, the specific issues addressed by the High Court were whether the following two elements must be stated in the claim:

 (i) that the landlord gave written consent to the tenant for the work to be performed on the property;  (Answer: yes); and

(ii) whether the statement of claim must specify the exact date that work was completed, or all materials were furnished, on the project. (Answer: yes–which means the work must be completed or materials furnished first).

The Court’s opinion describes in great detail the factual background involved in this case and the statutory language that was disputed, as well as the intent of the legislature when the statute was amended. In sum, the Court relied on prior decisions by the Delaware courts to support its interpretation of the statutory prerequisites for filing a mechanics’ lien and  to resolve differing interpretations between the parties.

This opinion provides important clarification on previously unsettled aspects of the statute. In order to avoid traps for the unwary, this decision is must reading for anyone filing a mechanics’ lien in Delaware because it explains what the statute requires in those instances where reasonable people might have read the statutory prerequisites differently. In light of this opinion, the requirements are now clear.