California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, Second Division
FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION[*]
from the Superior Court of Riverside County No. MCC1400466.
Gloria Trask and Angel M. Bermudez, Judges. [†]
& Bursch, Jennifer L. Bursch, James A. Long, and Nada N.
Higuera for Plaintiff and Appellant.
Offices of Jonathan C. Stevens and Jonathan C. Stevens for
Defendants and Appellants.
RAMIREZ P. J.
and Deborah Luzuriaga contracted with a general contractor
for the construction of a commercial building. The general
contractor, in turn, contracted with Precision Framing
Systems, Inc. (Precision) for the framing, including the
necessary trusses. And Precision contracted with Inland
Empire Truss, Inc. (Inland) for the fabrication of the
trusses. Precision never received full payment. Accordingly,
it recorded a mechanic's lien claim.
there was a problem with some of the trusses. There was much
finger-pointing as to who was to blame. After Precision had
already recorded its mechanic's lien claim, Precision
and/or Inland came back to the site and repaired the trusses.
filed this action to foreclose its mechanic's lien. Ms.
Luzuriaga filed a cross-complaint. The trial court granted
summary judgment against Precision on its complaint. It ruled
that the mechanic's lien claim was filed prematurely -
i.e., before Precision had “cease[d] to provide
work.” (Civ. Code, § 8414, subd. (a).)
appeals. Its primary contention is that there was a triable
issue of fact as to whether it had ceased to provide work,
because (1) “ceas[ing], ” within the meaning of
the statute, can be a gradual process, (2) the repair of the
trusses was not part of Precision's “work, ”
(3) there was evidence that Precision completed all of its
work before it recorded its mechanic's lien claim, and
(4) there was evidence that the repairs were done by Inland.
Henry Luzuriaga and the Luzuriagas' bonding company
affirm. We agree with the trial court: The evidence showed,
beyond a triable issue of fact, that Precision had not yet
“cease[d]... work” when it recorded its
mechanic's lien claim. This moots the cross-appeal.
following facts are taken from the evidence introduced in
connection with the motion for summary judgment.
Luzuriagas undertook the construction of a veterinary
hospital on a piece of property that they owned in Wildomar.
They hired an architect and a general contractor. The general
contractor, in turn, hired Precision as the framing
subcontractor. Precision's contract stated that that the
contact price was “for labor, lumber, trusses, and
hardware necessary to complete the... project.”
Mears is the president of Precision. He testified that
Precision was supposed to “supply and install”
the trusses. In its interrogatory responses, Precision stated
that its scope of work consisted of framing, including
“procurement of materials (lumber[, ] hardware and
selected Inland to design and manufacture the trusses. As
Mears put it, “Precision used Inland” for the
trusses. Inland contracted solely with Precision and invoiced
Precision, although Inland was paid directly by the
designed the trusses, based on the plans and specifications,
and built them. However, the architect had to approve the
truss design, incorporate it into his plans, and make sure
they matched (redesigning his own plans if necessary). Thus,
as the general contractor testified, the “truss
details” were “ultimately the architect's
24, 2013, Precision started work on the framing. On July 29,
2013, Inland delivered the trusses to the site. On August 2,
2013, Precision began installing the trusses.
August 7, 2013, the city issued a correction notice relating
to the trusses. It stated: “Truss bearing points are
not as per plan....” In the architect's opinion,
this was because the trusses were not fabricated in
accordance with the plan. On August 14, 2013, Precision
notified Inland that the trusses were defective. Later in
August 2013, Inland carried out some repairs to the trusses.
December 9, 2013, the city issued a second correction notice
relating to the trusses.
December 23, 2013, the general contractor and Precision's
superintendent “walked the [p]roject” together.
The general contractor found that Precision's work was
complete and fully in compliance with the plans and
specifications. At that point, according to both Mears and
the general contractor, Precision had completed its scope of
work. The city approved Precision's framing work.
however, never received full payment. Ms. Luzuriaga told
Mears “she was not interested in paying Precision and
told [him] to sue her.” Accordingly, on January 2,
2014, Precision recorded its mechanic's lien claim for
between January 2 and 29, 2014, the Luzuriagas changed the
locks of the building, locking out all contractors.
between January 20 and 29, 2014, Mears met with the architect
and the building inspector. At this meeting, he later
testified, he first became aware of the correction
January 29, 2014, Ms. Luzuriaga took the position that
Precision's mechanic's lien claim was
“premature” because it had not yet completed its
scope of work, and in particular because the correction
notices were still outstanding. She asked, “Does
Precision... intend to return to the job and correct the
issues that are pending?” Mears responded, “We
intend on completing any work pursuant to our contract...
[W]e are willing to meet and discuss any remaining
February 4, 2014, Precision told Ms. Luzuriaga that it could
not determine whether the issues in the correction notice
were within its scope of work because it was locked out.
February 12, 2014, Ms. Luzuriaga told Mears that she would be
at the site the following day. She continued, “If you
would like to visit the project with respect to the
City's correction notice..., you can come by then.”
Mears responded that he would and added, “The truss
company will also be in attendance to make sure that the
repairs were made. If they are not they will complete them
Inland had prepared repair designs and had done the related
structural calculations. On February 12 or 13, 2014, Inland
carried out the repairs. Mears was present to
“accompany” Inland, and he “helped
coordinate the repairs.” The repairs themselves took two
or three hours
2014, Old Republic Surety Company (Old Republic) filed a
complaint (Case No. SWC1400869) against Ms. Luzuriaga,
Precision, and others.
Luzuriaga filed a cross-complaint against Precision and a
host of other defendants. Her operative (first amended)
cross-complaint alleged that, at all relevant times,
Precision lacked a contractor's license. It also alleged
that Precision's mechanic's lien claim had been filed
also in 2014, Precision filed a separate complaint (Case No.
fMCC1400466) against the Luzuriagas, American Contractors
Indemnity Company (American), and others. The operative (second
amended) complaint asserted a single cause of action for
foreclosure of mechanic's lien. The Luzuriagas asserted
various affirmative defenses, including that Precision
“was an unlicensed contractor....”
trial court consolidated the two cases.
2015, Precision filed a motion for summary adjudication of
the Luzuriagas' defenses. The trial court granted summary
adjudication in favor of Precision on the unlicensed
2017, the Luzuriagas moved for summary judgment on
Precision's complaint, on the ground that Precision had
filed its mechanic's lien prematurely. The trial court
granted the motion and entered judgment accordingly.
filed a timely notice of appeal. The Luzuriagas filed a
timely notice of cross-appeal. However, we dismissed Ms.
Luzuriaga as both an appellant and a respondent, because her
cross-complaint against Precision (and others) was still
OF THE MEARS DECLARATION
contends that the trial court erred by taking judicial notice
of Mears' declaration. Because this goes to whether we can
consider evidence from the declaration, we resolve it as a
Additional Factual and Procedural Background.
support of their motion for summary judgment, the Luzuriagas
asked the trial court to take judicial notice of declarations
by Mears and by Roy Ryan, the general ...