By: Justin C. Carlin
In the Florida construction law context, contractors, subcontractors, and sub-subcontractors sometimes assert liens on property for (i) amounts that exceed that which is actually owed by a property owner, or (ii) work that was not actually performed on the property. When either of such events occurs, a court may find that the lien is fraudulent, declare that the lien unenforceable, and award actual and punitive damages to any person who is damaged by the fraudulent lien.
Section 713.31(2)(a) of the Florida Statutes defines a fraudulent lien as a lien containing:
- A willful exaggeration as to the amount of the claim; or
- A claim for work not performed upon the property upon which the lienor seeks to impress its lien; or
- A claim for materials not furnished for the property upon which the lienor seeks to impress it lien; or
- A claim that is compiled “with such willful and gross negligence as to amount to a willful exaggeration.”