I do not like flirting with deadlines. If the deadline is Wednesday, I like to get it done on Tuesday. When filing a construction lien, it is always better to file a few days before the deadline or you may suffer the same fate as this Montana contractor.

In Total Industrial Plant Services, Inc. v. Turner Industries Group, LLC, the Montana Supreme Court was asked to analyze whether Total Industrial filed its construction lien within the Montana law 90 day statute of limitations. According to the evidence, Turner Industries was off the site no later than June 25. Even Total Industrial’s own superintendent testified that the company completed its work on June 25. So, when Total Industrial filed its lien 91 days after they left the property, the owner claimed that the lien was filed too late.

The court agreed, finding that the lien had been filed too late. Total Industrial argued that while it did complete a contract on June 25, it was back on the site under a new purchase order within the next few days and it was performing the same type of insulation work. Total Industrial also argued that its continued efforts on the work site,  even though under a different purchase order, stayed the running of the lien filing deadline. The court disagreed, citing to Montana law that if work is performed under separate contracts, the lien should be filed within the time prescribed by statute after delivery under each of the contracts. This meant that Total Industrial’s work under the new contract did not extend the time in which it could file a construction lien under the old contract.

Lien filing deadlines are serious business. If you have any question about when your deadline runs, it is always better to err on the side of caution and get the lien filed early. Otherwise, you may be out of luck just like this Montana contractor.