A bizarre case from the Washington Division I Court of Appeals in Diversified Wood Recycling, Inc. v. Harold Johnson, et al. may have far-reaching consequences for claimants, property owners and construction attorneys foreclosing mechanic liens. Until the opinion was published last week, Washington lien law seemed pretty clear on two points:
- When you file a lien, you can name the owner or reputed owner; but when you foreclose the lien, the foreclosure must be against the actual owner; and
- The owner must be named a party in the foreclosure action.
In the lien context…there is a strong statutory directive that “[the lien statutes]…be liberally construed to provide security for all parties intended to be protected by their provisions.” RCW 60.04.900....See, e.g. Northlake Concrete Prods., Inc. v. Wylie, 34 Wn.App. 810, 818, 663 P.2d 1380 (1983) (explaining the Legislature’s intent that “the lien laws shall be liberally construed with the view to effecting their object” meant that “when it has been determined that persons come within the operation of the act it will be liberally applied to them.”As any student of Washington construction law (and construction lien law) knows, there is a lien law battle being waged in the Washington Supreme Court over whether strict or liberal construction of these statutes should prevail in the controversial Williams v. Athletics's Field matter. I'm sure there is more to come on all of this soon.