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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Real Estate Law
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Experience:  Qualified attorney in private practice including business, family, criminal, and real estate issues.
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An elevator repair company obtained mechanics liens against

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An elevator repair company obtained mechanic's liens against every individual unit owner in my condo association. The liens total over 100 times the amount claimed, about $300k. The amount was due to a cost overrun on repairs they had quoted to the association at a much lower price, then ran over without authorization.

These liens are preventing us from refinancing or selling. Under what circumstances could we (or we and our fellow unit owners as a class) sue this company for damages?
Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

I am sorry for your situation.

A Mechanic's Lien allows a contractor to place a lien on a property which they worked on but were not paid for. This creates a lien which is recorded against the improved property. The lien is similar to a mortgage that a lender records against property to secure repayment of its loan.

Technically, the company should have filed the lien against the condo association itself as the entity responsible for and holding the building and which hired it, and not the individuals.

The first thing that the Defendant(s) should do is CHALLENGE the lien in Court. The Defendants should file a challenge of the lien in Court, asking the Court to drop the lien. An attorney is recommended. May I recommend the Illinois Bar referral program - <a href="here">here. The attorneys are vetted and qualified. You should be able to find an attorney you are confident with and whom you can trust, and who is available ASAP.

Once this is done, and if the Court agrees that the contractor has overreached, the lien should be dropped and company may be even be forced to pay for your legal fees.

After this, there is the possibility of filing suit anew for malicious prosecution. Under Illinois law, a complaint for malicious prosecution must allege five distinct elements: (1) institution and prosecution of judicial proceedings by the defendant (filing of the lien); (2) lack of probable cause for those proceedings; (3) malice in instituting the proceedings; (4) termination of the prior cause in plaintiff's favor, and (5) suffering by plaintiff of some special injury, beyond the anxiety, loss of time, attorney fees, and necessity for defending one's reputation, which are an unfortunate incident of many (if not most) lawsuits. Lyddon v. Shaw, 372 NE 2d 685 - Ill: Appellate Court, 2nd Dist. 1978 (internal citations omitted).

Illinois also allows punitive damages under 35.01 for conduct which would be deemed fraudulent, intentional, willful,or wanton.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Good luck.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you; I am rating your answer "Excellent Service" right away Could I ask a brief clarifying question?(Does not affect my rating, but I would appreciate it.)


 


I would like to find out whether it has any legal bearing on the matter that the contractor took out liens for the entire disputed amount over 100 times, i.e., totaling over $30 million on a $309k disputed amount, thus making it impossible for any individual unit owner to get their unit's lien discharged on their own. Thank you!

Paul,

Thank you for your kind words. By all means, please ask as much as you need to for this is why I am here.

I would like to find out whether it has any legal bearing on the matter that the contractor took out liens for the entire disputed amount over 100 times, i.e., totaling over $30 million on a $309k disputed amount, thus making it impossible for any individual unit owner to get their unit's lien discharged on their own. Thank you!

Hmm, it does in that it makes the claim for a malicious prosecution stronger, but it does not "add" any other claim.
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