Materialman Rewarded for Detailed Lien Despite “Open Account”

BMC West Corp.  v. Horkley, 144 Idaho 890, 174 P.3d 399 (2007)

BMC West provided materials to contractor Davies for work on Horkley’s commercial structure.  All sales were on an open account.  Davies did not fully pay BMC, so BMC filed liens “on the land on which the buildings were located, and on the buildings themselves.”  BMC then sued Horkley for payment and to foreclose the liens.  Horkley asserted the “open account defense,” which applies when a materialman “relies exclusively on the general credit of the purchaser, and does not look to the land, structure or building as additional security for the materials sold on credit.”  To avoid the defense and make the lien valid, the materials “must be furnished with special reference to their use in a particular building.”

Because BMC had tracked the materials sold to Davis for use on Horkley’s building, it was not relying on Davies’ general credit alone.  Since BMC was able to track the materials used to a specific project, the court granted summary judgment in favor of BMC.  The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed, including an award of attorney fees.

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