• January 22, 2010

Back in 1973, then Attorney General Warren Spannaus said, “Under the Minnesota lien provisions, a homeowner sometimes finds that he must compensate persons who are entirely unknown to him for their contribution to the improvement of his property—this despite his having already paid his contractor in full for the improvement.”  A law was passed to require “pre-lien” notice to avoid this unfair and costly situation.

The law includes exceptions, however, and Short Elliott Hendrickson (SEH), which provided about $290,000 of surveying and engineering work on a project but failed to give pre-lien notice, wanted to fit within such an exception.  Yesterday, however, the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected SEH’s argument.

The Court remanded on the issue of whether the pre-lien notice requirement applies to parties performing engineering and surveying work, which was undecided by the Court of Appeals.  The Supreme Court’s reasoning, after the break…

“Remedial statutes are generally entitled to liberal construction in favor of the remedy the statutes provide or the class they benefit,” the Court held.  “Therefore, we construe the pre-lien notice requirement liberally to uphold notice protections for property owners…Correspondingly, we construe exceptions narrowly to limit instances in which notice is not required. Such construction gives fullest effect to the remedy and benefits intended by Minn. Stat. § 514.011.”

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