Minnesota Supreme Court Upholds Service of Mechanics’ Lien by Party
By: JOSEPH G. SPRINGER
The Minnesota Supreme Court recently ruled that an officer of a party may personally serve a mechanics’ lien statement. In Eclipse Architectural Group v. Lam, 814 N.W.2d 692 (Minn. 2012), the officer of a mechanics’ lien claimant personally served a mechanics’ lien statement on the owner of the property. The property owner claimed that the lien should be invalidated because a rule of civil procedure prohibits a party or officer of a party from serving “a summons or other process.” The purpose of the rule is to require a disinterested person, typically a sheriff or private process server, to effectuate service. Because a disinterested person did not serve the mechanics’ lien statement, the property owner claimed that the lien should be invalidated. The Minnesota Supreme Court rejected this argument, holding that a mechanics’ lien statement is not a “summons or other process.” As a result, a party or an officer of a party may serve a mechanics’ lien statement.
Although Minnesota law now allows a party or an officer of a party to serve a mechanics’ lien statement, it is still better to use a disinterested sheriff or private process server to serve the lien statement. Service of a mechanics’ lien statement is a prerequisite to establishing a valid mechanics’ lien—if the service is not made properly or within the required deadlines, the lien will be invalid. To avoid any appearance that an interested party may not be telling the truth in order to establish the validity of the lien, it is better to use a disinterested process server to serve the lien.