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Regional Builders, Inc v. Brian Hughes et al

March 1, 2012

REGIONAL BUILDERS, INC., PLAINTIFF, CROSS-DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT,
v.
BRIAN HUGHES ET AL., DEFENDANTS, CROSS-COMPLAINANTS AND RESPONDENTS.



(Super. Ct. No. 34200900055173CUBCGDS)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Duarte , J.

Regional Builders v. Hughes

CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Plaintiff Regional Builders, Inc. (Builders) appeals from an order granting respondents Brian and Karen Hughes (the Hugheses) petition to expunge a mechanics lien by Builders against property owned by the Hugheses. (Civ. Code,*fn1 §§ 3144, 3154.) We find no error*fn2 and shall affirm.

BACKGROUND

The relevant facts are undisputed, and the timing of these events is central to the dispute.

On August 10, 2009, Builders filed a complaint against the Hugheses, alleging causes of action for breach of contract and common counts, and seeking damages of $230,000 for labor and materials supplied to the Hugheses for construction at their home. Builders attached to the complaint a copy of its written contract with the Hugheses and, in addition to damages, interest, and attorney fees, prayed for "such relief as is fair, just and equitable[.]"

On October 2, 2009, Builders recorded a mechanics lien*fn3 against the Hugheses property in the amount of $117,435.20.

In March 2010, Builders sought leave to file an amended complaint to add a cause of action for foreclosure on its mechanics lien. The Hugheses opposed the motion, arguing that the proposed cause of action for foreclosure on the mechanics lien was barred by section 3144, which requires an action to foreclose on a mechanics lien be filed no later than "90 days after" the lien was recorded. The trial court granted the motion by Builders, but noted in its minute order that the Hugheses could challenge the amended complaint by demurrer and "may ultimately prevail" on their argument that the mechanics lien cause of action was barred by the statute of limitations.

Builders filed its amended complaint on March 18, 2010, adding a cause of action for foreclosure of its October 2009 mechanics lien.*fn4

The Hugheses then filed a petition to expunge the mechanics lien, which is the subject of the instant appeal, arguing that the lien by Builders was void as a matter of law because it failed to file "an action to foreclose the lien" within "90 days after the recording of the claim of lien," as required by section 3144.

Builders argued in opposition, as it now does on appeal, that: (1) the original complaint's omnibus prayer for "fair, just and equitable" relief implicitly included enforcement of a mechanics lien; (2) the foreclosure cause of action in the amended complaint was timely because it "related back" to the original complaint; and, (3) the ...


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