Massachusetts Appeals Court Rules on Burden of Proof for Lien Claimants


Similar to many other states, the Massachusetts lien law has what may be considered a "cram-down" provision, which restricts the value of a lien in certain circumstances. A subcontractor or vendor lien claimant cannot obtain a lien for an amount greater than what is owed to the party above it in the contract line-up, at the time notice of its lien is given to the owner.1 If no money is due from the owner to the prime contractor when the subcontractor files a lien notice, the subcontractor's lien is effectively capped at the amount due, which may be zero.

But who has to prove how much was owed at the key point in time? That was the issue decided this week by the Massachusetts Appeals Court in National Lumber v. Inman.2

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