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Thursday, July 5,2012

Legal Insight

By Scott J. Topolski  
Q: A contractor who previously did very shoddy work at my house recently recorded a claim of lien, falsely stating he was owed over $7,000. Not only is he not owed anything, but he probably owes me money in that I was forced to hire someone else to correct and complete his work. He has now filed a lawsuit against me. Do I have any rights with respect to his false claim of lien?


A: Yes, you do. Florida law has created a claim for homeowners in your position. Your claim against this contractor would be a claim for a fraudulent lien. A fraudulent lien is one where the contractor has deliberately exaggerated the amount of the lien, has included, in that lien, a claim for materials not supplied or


work not performed or has compiled his claim of lien in such an intentionally and grossly negligent manner so as to constitute a willful exaggeration of the lien. You have the right to recover the damages that you have suffered as a result of that fraudulent lien. In addition, if you prevail on your claim for a fraudulent lien, you may obtain the attorney’s fees and costs that you have incurred. You can also recover punitive damages in an amount not to exceed the difference between the amount that the contractor claims is due and the actual amount due or to become due. Since this contractor has filed a lawsuit, you would want to bring your claim for a fraudulent lien as a counterclaim in that already-filed lawsuit.


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