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FLORIDA SECOND DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL RULES THAT CONTRACTOR MUST BE IN COURT TO SECURE ATTORNEY'S FEES FOR CONSTRUCTION LIEN ENFORCEMENT

The Florida Second District Court of Appeal in Snell v. Mott's Contracting Services, Inc., in a decision announced May 21, 2014, has ruled that where the contract between an owner and a contractor calls for all disputes to be arbitrated, it is still incumbent upon the contractor to file suit in state court to foreclose its construction lien in order to preserve its right to secure an award of attorney's fees under the Construction Lien Law.

 

In Snell, the contractor failed to file suit in circuit court, putting the matter of the enforcement of its construction lien solely before the arbitrator.  The arbitrator found the lien to be valid and found the contractor to be entitled to an award of attorney's fees.  The matter went to state court for enforcement.  The Second District overturned the circuit court's determination that the arbitrator had authority to enforce the construction lien.

 

What contractors are going to need to do in light of this case where the contract calls for arbitration is to file suit to foreclose its lien in addition to enforcing its claims in arbitration.  In such cases, it is likely that a court would be inclined to stay the court action pending the completion of arbitration.

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