When the members of the Improved Construction Practices Committee (ICPC) heard about the difficulty a construction lienor had in getting a construction lien timely recorded, they decided to take immediate action and participate in the proceedings. The lienor, Pritchett Trucking, Inc., delivered its construction lien in the amount of $118,288.83 and recording fee to the Duval County Clerk of Court within 90 days (April 23, 2018) of its last furnishing of services to the project in accordance with section 713.08(5), Florida Statutes. The Duval County Clerk of Court recorded the construction lien in the public records seven (7) days later (April 30, 2018), thus making Pritchett Trucking’s construction lien untimely and unenforceable.
Pritchett Trucking sued the Duval County Clerk of Court to require that the Clerk re-record the construction lien with the correct recording date of April 23, 2018 (the date the construction lien was delivered to the Clerk with the recording fee). More specifically, in accordance with Florida law, the Clerk of the Court is required to record documents when presented and upon payment of the recording fee. The Duval County Circuit Court Judge agreed with Pritchett Trucking and required the Clerk of Court to record a copy of the construction lien, together with the final judgment of the court, as a single document to confirm the date of delivery of the construction lien as the recording date. Thereafter, the Duval County Clerk of Court and Florida Association of Court Clerks appealed the trial court ruling to the First District Court of Appeal.
On October 6, 2021, the Florida First District Court of Appeal upheld the Trial Court Ruling interpreting the statutes as requiring the clerk to carry out its statutory duty of recording an instrument when presented with payment. The Pritchett Trucking case was not the first situation that I have encountered where delayed recording was an issue. As a practitioner, this issue had arisen in my cases numerous times before I took part in this case. In each situation, I was able to have the trial court mandate the clerk to place the correct date of recording so that the liens were timely and could be foreclosed. The appeal by the Duval County Clerk of Court was a case of first impression for the appellate courts in Florida. This recent ruling will hopefully make it easier for trial court judges to mandate clerks to re-record construction liens with the proper dates. Additionally, this court decision will apply to other instruments such as deeds, mortgages and judgment liens and any other document where recording priority is important.
This information presents the general scheme of Florida’s Construction Lien Law as of October 2021. The Construction Lien Law is constantly being amended; therefore, this material should not be relied upon in place of experienced legal advice in specific situations. This material is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without written permission from Barry Kalmanson, Esq.