The Trusted Adviser August 2009 | Volume 2 - Number 6

ATTORNEYS | Practice Notes



Mechanic's Liens

Hayes v Chapman, 894 NE2d 1047 (Ind Ct App 2008).

Facts:Hayes hired friend and co-worker Chapman to remodel parts of his home. The two parties orally agreed that Chapman would undertake the job and that billing would be based on time and materials. The parties did not set a fixed price.

Chapman began work in February 2002. Hayes subsequently made several changes to his plans, which increased the cost of the work and the length of time needed to complete the project. Hayes was billed at irregular intervals and in March of 2003, he admitted that he had a money shortage and requested more time to pay. Chapman agreed and continued to work on the project. From March until October 2003, when Hayes fired him, Chapman did not receive any additional payment for his work. Hayes never gave Chapman notice of any defects or damages suffered as a result of defects, and he did not ask Chapman to correct any problems with the construction.

Chapman gave Hayes notice that he intended to file a mechanic's lien and in May of 2004, Chapman filed a complaint seeking to foreclose the lien. The Hayes' counterclaim sought damages for violations of the Home Improvement Contract Act, IC 24-5-11-1,et seq., (HICA) and breach of warranty. The trial court ruled in favor of Chapman.

Holding:Affirmed. HICA requires a written contract for construction projects, to protect consumers who have little knowledge of the home improvement industry. However, a violation of HICA occurs where a supplier commits an uncured (brought to the supplier's attention but never fixed) or incurable (done with intent to defraud) deceptive act. Because there was no evidence that Chapman was even aware of the HICA requirements, the court held that he did not knowingly violate them. Furthermore, Hayes never brought any defect to Chapman's attention that he then failed to fix, nor was there any indication that he acted with intent to defraud Hayes. Consequently, the court held that there was no violation of HICA.






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[Last update: 7-27-09]