It sometimes seems that the cards are always stacked against the little guys, the ones at the front lines of any project or fight, doing the dirty work and fighting the daily battles. While this may be true in many cases, Florida’s lien laws offer some truly impressive clout for subcontractors who are owed payment in certain circumstances.
If you are a subcontractor who is owed payment for a job you have completed, and if you meet the requirements for invoking this particular statute, you may be able to make use of surprising legal power to recover what you are owed. In order to invoke the statute, the subcontractor must have completed the work in question, the subcontractor must still be owed for the work, and the contractor must have already been paid for the work in question at least 30 days prior to filing of the suit. Provided that the subcontractor is not in some breach of that contract, and the amount to be paid for the work is not in dispute, Florida law may pull out some big guns for the little guy.
In this case, the subcontractor is able to demand an account of how the contractor may have used the payment he or she has already received, as well as receive an injunction against the contractor. This entails a pre-judgment attachment of relevant bank accounts or other relevant assets, and may even include legal costs in the event that the lawsuit is successful. The whole process can also be undertaken with astounding speed, in legal terms — the law provides that the subcontractor is entitled to an evidentiary hearing 15 days after filing suit. The remedies provided by these statutes can be obtained at the conclusion of the hearing.
There are many ways that the law is on the side of the working man, but making use of the law correctly can be a complex matter, especially when it comes to filing construction-related lawsuits. If you have a construction law question, or believe that you may have a relevant lawsuit, the guidance of an mediation/arbitration with experience in construction law can help ensure that your rights remain protected while you explore your legal options.
Source: Lexology, “A Game-Changer for Subcontractors in Payment Disputes,” Jimerson and Cobb, Sep. 08, 2016