In 2011, an en banc panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court held that trustees of a union benefit fund can bring claims under the Pennsylvania Mechanics’ Lien Law. Bricklayers of Western Pennsylvania Combined Funds, Inc. v. Scott’s Dev. Co., et al. This case potentially made owners liable for their contractors’ failure to pay union pension and benefit payments.
On April 17, 2014, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, reversed the Superior Court, holding that the Pennsylvania Mechanics’ Lien Law only allows contractors and subcontractors to file mechanics’ liens and the trustees were neither contractors nor subcontractors. The Court held that the Mechanics’ Lien Law should be construed in conformance with its language and not expanded to allow additional lien rights where not expressly provided in the law.
The Superior Court decision had been interpreted as a dramatic change in Pennsylvania mechanics’ lien law. The Supreme Court’s reversal restores the law to the general understanding of Pennsylvania mechanics’ lien law prior to the 2011 opinion that only contractors and subcontractors can file mechanics’ liens in Pennsylvania.