The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the composite lien encompassing several parcels of real property was not invalid on its face and had not bee declared void for wilful exaggeration. Therefore the validity of the lien must be determined in a foreclosure proceeding:
… [T]he composite mechanic’s lien was facially valid and the Supreme Court should not have summarily discharged it. … [T]he composite mechanic’s lien was not invalid because of a failure to apportion the work and material furnished between the four parcels of real property that were identified in the composite mechanic’s lien. The requirement to do so “applies where several transactions, involving the improvement of distinct parcels of property, have been effected at the request of independent owners” … . Here, the petitioners failed to establish that the individual and independent lot owners identified in the composite mechanic’s lien hired BKS in separate and distinct transactions. Furthermore, the composite mechanic’s lien was not invalid on its face merely because it identified multiple lots by their respective tax block and lot designations … . …
The Supreme Court also should not have summarily determined that branch of the petition which alleged that the amount claimed in the composite mechanic’s lien was willfully exaggerated. “Pursuant to Lien Law § 39, the court may declare a lien void and deny recovery if the lienor has willfully exaggerated the amount claimed” … . This Court has held that the remedy in Lien Law § 39-a is “available only where the lien was valid in all other respects and was declared void by reason of willful exaggeration after a trial of the foreclosure action” … . Matter of Matrix Staten Is. Dev., LLC v BKS-NY, LLC, 2022 NY Slip Op 02795, Second Dept 4-27-22
Practice Point: Here the lien should not have have summarily discharged on the ground it encompassed several parcels of property because it was not shown the individual property owners hired respondent in separate transactions. The finding that the amount of the lien was wilfully exaggerated is not a ground for summary discharge. Wilful exaggeration will void a lien, but that determination must be made in a foreclosure proceeding.