In an unpublished opinion, the Indiana Court of Appeals recently determined that a supplier to a materialman is not entitled to impose personal liability on a project owner in reliance on Indiana’s Personal Liability Notice statute. This is consistent with previous appellate decisions in Indiana holding that a materialman supplying a materialman is not entitled to claim a mechanic’s lien in reliance on Indiana’s Mechanic’s Lien Statute.
In R.T. Moore Co. v. Slant/Fin Corp., 2012 WL 457035 (Ind. App. Feb. 14, 2012) (unpublished) a mechanical-equipment supplier provided baseboard heating to an intermediate mechanical-equipment supplier, which was then installed by a third-party mechanical contractor. The intermediate mechanical supplier suspended its operations and turned over its assets to its secured lenders without paying for the baseboard heating.
Accordingly, the original supplier filed a “Notice of Personal Liability” claim pursuant to I.C. § 32–28–3–9. In response, the owner withheld monies owed to the mechanical contractor. The mechanical contractor filed suit against the original supplier seeking a declaratory judgment that a material supplier to a material supplier lacks standing to assert a claim under Indiana’s Personal Liability Notice Statute.
The court reviewed the language of Indiana’s Personal Liability Notice Statute and Indiana’s Mechanic’s Lien Statute and determined that a supplier to a supplier is not protected by Indiana’s Personal Liability Statute. This is consistent with City of Evansville v. Verplank Concrete & Supply, Inc., 400 N.E.2d 812, 818 (Ind. App. 1980) wherein the court found that a supplier to a supplier is not entitled to a mechanic’s lien.
Please note that Indiana Appellate rules say that this decision should not be “regarded as precedent or cited before any court except for the purpose of establishing the defense of res judicata, collateral estoppel, or the law of the case.”© 2013 BARNES & THORNBURG LLP