East Coast Steel Erectors, Inc. vs. Phillip K. Ciolfi, Trustee, 417 Mass. 602

04/27/1994 Posted By: Corwin & Corwin LLP

court: SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT OF MASSACHUSETTS

Citation: 417 Mass. 602
Parties: EAST COAST STEEL ERECTORS, INC. vs. PHILLIP K. CIOLFI, trustee. 1
County: Essex
Hearing Date: March 9, 1994
Decision Date: April 27, 1994
Judges: LIACOS, C.J., ABRAMS, NOLAN, O'CONNOR, & GREANEY, JJ.

Section 4 of G. L. c. 254 expressly permits a subcontractor, where the subcontract does not contain a completion date, to set forth an estimated completion date in its notice of contract filed with the registry of deeds, subject only to the owner's objection; likewise, the subcontractor may estimate the completion date in a notice of extension. [607-608] A subcontract requiring the work done thereunder to be completed within fifteen working days of a certain date, a working day being identified as any day, Monday through Friday, excluding days when the contractor would be unable to be on the property because of weather, lack of materials, or other such reasons, did not contain a completion date within the meaning of G. L. c. 254, Section 4, relative to establishing a subcontractor's lien. [608] A subcontractor that filed a timely notice of contract pursuant to G. L. c. 254, Section 4, with an estimated completion date to which the owner did not object and that filed timely notices of extension with estimated completion dates to which the owner did not object established a valid lien that was validly perfected thereafter by timely filings of a statement of account under Section 8 and a claim under Sections 5 and 11.

[608-609]


CIVIL ACTION commenced in the Superior Court Department on October 24, 1990.

The case was heard by Elizabeth B. Donovan, J.

The Supreme Judicial Court granted a request for direct appellate review.

E. Melvin Nash for the plaintiff.

T. Christopher Donnelly for the defendant.

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1 Of Danvers Executive Park Trust.

Page 603

Peter J. Gagne & Joseph M. Corwin, for Associated Subcontractors of Massachusetts, amicus curiae, submitted a brief.

NOLAN, J. The plaintiff, East Coast Steel Erectors, Inc. (East Coast), appeals from a Superior Court judge's dismissal of its claim against Phillip K. Ciolfi, trustee of Danvers Executive Park Trust (trust), seeking to enforce a mechanic's lien it recorded under G. L. c. 254, Section 4 (1992 ed.). The judge held that East Coast failed to perfect its mechanic's lien in accordance with c. 254, the mechanic's lien statute. We granted East Coast's request for direct appellate review. We reverse.

This dispute arises out of a project for the construction of a building on land owned by the trust in Danvers. Whitney Development Corporation (Whitney) served as the general contractor and East Coast served as a subcontractor on the structural steel work. On October 24, 1990, East Coast brought suit in Superior Court against Whitney and the trust, claiming that it had not been paid for its services rendered on the project. It sought relief from Whitney under theories of contract and quasi contract. Against the trust, it sought to enforce a mechanic's lien pursuant to G. L. 254, Sections 4, 5, 8, 11 (1992 ed.). The claims against Whitney were subsequently settled. The case proceeded to trial solely on the mechanic's lien count.

The pertinent facts follow. 2 East Coast and Whitney negotiated a written contract, in which East Coast agreed to perform the structural steel work for Whitney's project. The contract required that the steel erection be substantially completed within fifteen working days of February 12, 1990. A working day was identified as any day, Monday through Friday, excluding days when the contractor would be unable