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Mechanics Lein?

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by LayoftheLand, Nov 11, 2011.

  1. LayoftheLand

    LayoftheLand LawnSite Member
    Messages: 11

    Hey guys,

    I have a quick question pertaining to but not limited to a mechanics lein.

    A customer brought me 2 push mowers about 5 months ago, pieces of junk really, I estimated $150 between the two to get them up and running again.
    Well, I got them repaired, and phoned the man, and got no response, left a message of course. And so the story goes, I phoned him 2-3 times a week for 4 months, leaving messages every time. Last week a man comes into the shop and asks what the two push mowers over there are. I told him the story, and offered them to him for $150 and sent them out.
    Guess who comes in yesterday? HA! You got it! I told him basically what I just told you guys, and I even offered him the $150. He refused it, and "is in the process of filing the papers for small claims court".

    I have a large sign in my shop that reads: "Any equipment left for over 30 days will be sold for cost of repairs"

    How legal am I in doing this? He claims his two 5.5HP lawnboy non self-propel non bagger mowers are worth $800.
    Which we all know is crap.
    But, does he even have a case against me?
  2. StihlMechanic

    StihlMechanic LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,133

    I dont know your laws in NC, but you would of been smart to get a lien before selling. I have had many of these situations and sell the equipment with out one, taking a risk. At this point I would keep the 150 and wait and see if he goes through with it.

    I used to charge $5 per day after 30 days of notice of the repairs completion, this usually got them to pay up.
  3. FoghornLeghorn

    FoghornLeghorn LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 751

    As long as everything is documented and that "sale after 30 days" sign is in your shop, then you should be fine.

    Also, you tried to refund the $150, which shows a good faith effort on your part to resolve the issue. At this point I would just wait for a summons to arrive. 99% says you'll never get the summons because it's not worth his time to pursue the case.

    No lawyer will take the case because the cost to push the case to court would cost more than the $800 he says they're worth in the first place...
  4. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,168

    Your clearly posted sign should be ample proof in court as well as the original dated ticket. 5 months is way too long. "Take me judge Judy fool"!
    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. jsslawncare

    jsslawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,673

    I use to work in a machine shop and we had a lawyer write a 30 day notice for us that we had made into a sign like you have. We sold alot of things and never had a problem and yes people did come back after their stuff. I would just point to the sign and say "sorry, we tried to contact you". The sign did have to have a date on it. The date was the date it was hung. I do have a question- Why did you offer him the money for the mower's, if he had took it you would still be out of the money wouldn't you? Don't worry about it.
  6. newz7151

    newz7151 LawnSite Silver Member
    from Tejas
    Messages: 2,419

    When you were calling him, were you calling from a cell phone or a land line phone? Were they local calls or long distance? JUST IN CASE, you need to try and see if there is a way to get your phone records that will help document how many times you were calling to try to get hold of him to pick them up.
  7. thunderthud

    thunderthud LawnSite Member
    Messages: 127

    This is based on my jurisdiction, this may not apply to your local jurisdiction as each region has unique laws and rules.

    If a merchant wants to take possession of an item left for a period of time by a party, you would need to document the rules, and usually give the person leaving their property in your care a receipt with the rules of your business that cannot violate the consumer laws of your state, county or city.

    You have a default mechanics lien on the item because it is in your possession meaning the person cannot reclaim them item without either paying for the work or repair, or a judgement for a court authorizing a sheriff or constable to reclaim the item under the courts legal authority.

    If a person fails to pick up their items within a reasonable time, you must send a certified letter to the owner of the item for them to cure the problem. If within a certain time they do not respond you usually place an ad in the local paper indicating the last known owner of the item, address and your intention to sell the item to recover your losses and storage charges if applicable.

    In a nutshell, simply document each stage of the transaction to prove your lien, and to perfect your lien on the item.

    A sign is not enough, you may be asked by the magistrate or judge what you did to contact the person and did you give the person the rules of your business in writing. Also, is the sign actually legal in your jurisdiction? You can put up a 'trespassers will be shot and eaten' but that doesn't actually make it legal. Some states have strong consumer protection laws, others have a 'have at it, boys' set of rules.

    They also like proof from a third party like the USPS and a copy of the ad from the local paper if you did sell the stuff to indicate to the court that you did, in fact, try to contact the person. "I called him, like, seven times to pick up his, um, stuff, and I didn't hear back from the dude" doesn't fly.

    The beauty of his 800 dollar claim is it will be in small claims court. No lawyers. In fact, most small claims magistrates hate lawyers and will really make it hard on counsel.

    Paperwork is annoying but saves your butt in times like these. Good luck.
  8. dtc0207

    dtc0207 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 222

    If I got called in I would also add a 5 dollar a day storage fee so that is 600 plus 150 repair bill so at most 50 out of your pocket if you were to loose which I doubt
    Posted via Mobile Device

    WREBELMACHINE LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,089

    I have a question. I have what I thought was a friend that I loaned a ztr to. We then agreed verbally for him to buy it at a payment plan of x dollars a month. I have not received any money and he claims to have had to fix the machine and he has now put a mechanics lein on it. Is this even possible when it is my mower and I have not recieved any money towards it.
  10. easy-lift guy

    easy-lift guy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,372

    In the state of Florida, based on your details. You are in the right and the case would maybe go to pretrial conference at best. If the person who is suing you wanted to go any further he could, but he better have a judge with a lot of time on his docket and a good sence of humor. In most cases judges are lacking both.
    I believe the case will be thrown out based on your evidence. See it through, let the forum know how you made out.
    easy-lift guy
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2012

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