Monthly Archives: October 2012

Mechanic’s and Materialman’s Liens – A Powerful Tool for Debt Collections

Texas Mechanics Liens - M&M Liens

A. Lewis Ward helps business owners protect themselves and recover debts by properly filing and supporting Texas Mechanics Liens, know as M&M Liens

Mechanic’s and materialman’s liens (M&M liens) can be a very useful tool for debt collections, especially in collecting delinquent accounts. This tool is available to contractors, laborers, suppliers, architects and others who provide labor, services or materials for the improvement of real property.

An M&M Lien is a remedy for debt collections provided under Texas business law and that you must comply with strictly for your lien to be enforceable. Failure to comply with these strict statutory requisites can not only result in an unenforceable lien, but may result in you having to pay attorney’s fees and court costs to the real estate owner if he prevails in an action against you to remove the lien.

The requirements to be met and the applicable deadlines depend upon whether the project is public or private; whether it is residential or commercial; and whether you are a general contractor or a derivative claimant, e.g., subcontractor, laborer, etc.

An M&M Lien claimant usually must provide a notice of the amount due but unpaid within a certain time period in a specifically required manner to very specific persons before filing an M&M Lien affidavit. The M&M Lien affidavit must then be filed within the prescribed time after the accrual of indebtedness (which has a definition that varies according to the type claimant) and contain the information described in the statute. When these things are properly completed, the claimant has a “perfected lien.”

The “perfected mechanic’s and materialman’s lien” can assist a claimant in the following ways:

  1. A subcontractor or other similarly situated claimant can trap funds for his payment in the hands of the real property owner. If the owner does not force the general contractor to pay the subcontractor or withhold funds as instructed, the owner and his property can become liable to the subcontractor.
  2. This subcontractor, by perfecting his lien, effectively stops the land owner from selling the property without first paying the subcontractor (it is possible to bond around the lien). Because of the owner’s plans to sell, this often puts the subcontractor in a very strong position.
  3. Even if the owner has no plans to sell the improved real property, the pending M&M Lien can adversely affect any banking relationship with respect to the subject property and his credit generally.
  4. The subcontractor can foreclose on his M&M Lien, and the court must award costs and attorney’s fees as are equitable and just.

Businesses involved in or affiliated with the construction industry should keep a watchful eye on their accounts receivable – the notice of amount due but unpaid, the first step in perfecting a mechanic’s and materialman’s lien, can be due as soon as 45 days after the end of any month in which labor, services or materials are furnished.

Contact A. Lewis Ward & Associates for assistance in filing a “perfected M&M Lien” and protecting your business and personal interests.

Texas Supreme Court Denies Petition, Guarantees Jury Trial for Client of A. Lewis Ward & Associates

Commercial Litigation in Texas Courtrooms

A. Lewis Ward has been successfully litigating business law matters in Houston, Texas courtrooms for more than 30 years

HOUSTON – On October 12, 2012, the Texas Supreme Court  dismissed a petition to review an appellate decision won by A. Lewis Ward & Associates before the Fourteenth Court of Appeals on May 8, 2012. This was the final step that guarantees a jury trial for Ward’s client.

“Everyone deserves his or her day in court, and my client has been prevented from this justice for too long,” said A. Lewis Ward, attorney. Ward has fought on behalf of his client to establish the right to a jury trial since the district court granted a summary judgment in favor of the opposing party on January 13, 2011.

The Fourteenth District Court of Appeals in Houston overturned that summary judgment on May 8, 2012, which did not end the fight for a fair trial. The opposing party made a last attempt to avoid going to trial by filing a petition with the Texas Supreme Court to reconsider the judgment of the Court of Appeals. The Texas Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the petition is the last delay and Ward’s client is now guaranteed her day in court.

A. Lewis Ward has cited evidence that his client stands to receive redress in the amount of $300,000.00 or more and has pledged to press this case to ensure that justice is done for his client. A jury trial date is expected to be set very soon.

2016 Update: Jury Verdict in Favor of ALW Client

A prominent Downtown Houston real estate owner had granted the 99-year lease and then seized the property from the rightful tenant. A. Lewis Ward successfully swayed the jury to believe that the lease was valid and they awarded $100,000 in damages. This case is now on appeal to receive the full $330,000 in damages as demonstrated by the evidence.