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MOSEMAN CONSTRUCTION CO. v. SHAPPERT ENGINEERING CO.

January 2, 1992

MOSEMAN CONSTRUCTION CO., PLAINTIFF,
v.
SHAPPERT ENGINEERING CO., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, District Judge:

OPINION

First, can only the public body on which a public mechanic's lien has been served complain about the sufficiency of the lien?

No.

Second, does a lien for "materials and labor furnished" comply with a requirement that liens state with particularity the items and amounts that are due?

Yes.

This cause is before the Court on Defendant-contractor's motion to dismiss Plaintiff-subcontractor's complaint for an accounting for its failure to follow the statutory requirements set forth in Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 82, ¶ 23 (1989).

Denied.

I. Facts

In March, 1986, Defendant and the Illinois Department of Transportation entered into a contract under which Defendant was to construct two bridges across the Illinois River. Defendant then entered into a contract with Plaintiff whereby Plaintiff was to redesign and construct the superstructure of the two bridges. Various delays occurred during the construction of the bridge and several lawsuits have been filed as a result. Among these is the present case in which Plaintiff filed a public mechanic's lien with the State of Illinois and a complaint for an accounting under Ill.Rev. Stat. ch. 82, 11 23 (1989) whereby Plaintiff seeks payment for labor performed and materials furnished.

Defendant argues that Plaintiff has failed to comply with the Public Mechanic's Lien Act because: 1) Plaintiffs "claim for a lien does not contain any statement "showing with particularity the several items and the amount claimed to be due on each;'" 2) Plaintiff's lien is limited to labor performed and materials furnished while its complaint includes a request for damages due to delay and disruption; and 3) Plaintiff's complaint for an accounting is in fact a complaint for damages since it is seeking damages for delay and disruption rather than recovery for labor and materials.

This Court earlier found that Plaintiff's complaint for an accounting was not a complaint for damages in disguise. After performing its own research, this Court raised the question of whether Plaintiff had standing to challenge the sufficiency of the lien notice. The parties were ordered to submit briefs addressing the two visceral issues: 1) whether the contractor may complain about the sufficiency of the public lien; 2) if so, whether the subcontractor complied with the particularity requirement as defined by the Illinois courts—or by other courts in analogous cases.

II. Motion to Dismiss

In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court "must accept the well pleaded allegations of the complaint as true. In addition, the Court must view these allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Gomez v. Illinois State Bd. of Educ., 811 F.2d 1030, 1039 (7th Cir. 1987). Although a complaint is not required to contain a detailed outline of the claim's basis, it nevertheless "must contain either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to sustain a recovery under some viable legal theory." Car Carriers, Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 745 F.2d 1101, 1106 (7th Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 470 U.S. 1054, 105 S.Ct. 1758, 84 L.Ed.2d 821 (1985). Dismissal is not granted "unless it appears ...


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