Engineer’s Lien Thrown Out by Court

Engineer’s Lien Thrown Out by CourtIn a hotly contested matter, Miami Dade Circuit Court Judge Lisa Walsh upheld the arguments raised by lawyers for Mirasol Ocean Towers Condominium Association against claims lodged by Pistorino & Alam Consulting Engineers. Leonard Klingen with The Barthet Firm, a Miami construction law firm, persuaded the court that a separate claim of lien is required for each separate contract. While Florida lien law permits an unpaid lienor to record a claim against an owner’s property if the lienor has not been paid for work it performed to improve the property, it does not allow that more than one direct contract be included within a single claim of lien.

Mirasol Condominium Association located in Miami Beach had entered into nine separate contracts with Pistorino & Alam to perform a number of services, including designing and administering certain concrete and stucco remediation work, designing replacement window and sliding glass door systems, and designing new cabanas, as well as a new entrance. After a falling out between the parties, Pistorino & Alam recorded a single claim of lien for amounts allegedly due under all the contracts and then sued the Association to foreclose its lien. The Association counterclaimed for fraudulent lien under §713.08 and §713.31 and filed its motion for partial summary judgment, arguing that the aggregation of disparate claims into a single lien claim resulted in an exaggeration of the amount due under any single contract. Such an aggregated claim violates not only §713.09, but also the §713.08 (1) (g) requirement that a lien claim set forth the amount unpaid “under the lienor’s contract.” The court granted the Association’s summary judgment motion against Pistorino & Alam’s foreclosure count and ruled in favor of the Association’s fraudulent lien count.

The court also found Pistorino & Alam liable for the Association’s legal fees, costs and possible punitive damages. Eduardo Gesio, the Association’s President, said, “This was a big deal for the Association as the current board works to resolve lingering issues we inherited.”

The Barthet Firm ( ) has been serving South Florida’s construction industry for the last 20 years. With several Board Certified construction lawyers and years of involvement in many of Miami’s better known projects, the downtown firm has more than 150 years of combined legal experience providing legal solutions.

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