Court Finds Lien did not Attach Absent Parties’ Meeting of the Minds

Niehaus v. Big Ben’s Tree Svc., Inc., 982 So. 2d 1253 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2008)

In this case, the court held that a contractor’s lien under Section 713.05 never attached because the parties never had a meeting of the minds as to a material term of their contract.  The owner had contacted a contractor to cut down and “remove” a tree.  The owner believed that “remove” meant that the tree would be taken from her property, but the contractor intended for remove to have its technical meaning in the tree industry, which is to simply move the tree.  The owner refused to pay the contractor when he would not take the tree from her property, resulting in the contractor recording a mechanic’s lien under Section 713.05.

A mechanic’s lien can only attach when a valid contract exists, and parties’ must agree as to material terms for there to be a valid contract.  The court found that “removal” was a material term of the parties’ contract in this case, and that they had different understandings as to the term’s meaning.  Therefore, the contractor’s lien never attached, and the owner was entitled to attorney’s fees under Section 713.29 for her successful defense against the lien.

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