Appeal from the District Court of Albany County The Honorable Jeffrey A. Donnell, Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Voigt, Justice.
Before KITE, C. J., and GOLDEN, HILL, VOIGT*fn1, and BURKE, JJ.
[¶1] Opportunity Knocks Enterprises, LLC (Opportunity Knocks) appeals a district court's determination that Opportunity Knocks failed to prove that Shannon Electric, Inc. (Shannon Electric) knew, at the time it filed a claim of lien, that the lien was groundless, or that the lien contained a material misstatement or false claim. We affirm, although upon somewhat different grounds than those relied upon by the district court.
[¶2] 1. Did the district court err in determining, pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 29-1-311(b) (LexisNexis 2009), that Opportunity Knocks failed to prove that Shannon Electric knew, at the time it filed a claim of lien, that the lien was groundless, or that the lien contained a material misstatement or false claim?
2. Does Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 29-1-311(b) require a petitioner to prove intentional fraud when challenging a lien as groundless, containing a material misstatement or false claim?
3. Does a lien claim that does not comply with Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 29-1-301(b)(iv) (LexisNexis 2009) contain a material misstatement as a matter of law?
[¶3] Opportunity Knocks contracted with Shannon Electric on July 17, 2008, to perform electrical work on an apartment building in Laramie, Wyoming. Shannon Electric agreed to install all the electrical systems in an eighteen unit apartment complex for a contract price of $92,736.00. As required by the contract, Opportunity Knocks made a twenty percent down payment prior to Shannon Electric beginning the project. After working on the property for over a month, Shannon Electric stopped work after witnessing another electrical contractor "correcting and rehanging the electrical service meter." The following day, Opportunity Knocks requested an itemized list of charges for materials and labor that Shannon Electric had expended on the property, and requested a refund of any remaining amount of the down payment. Shannon Electric provided the requested itemization which included charges for labor and materials and also included a twenty-five percent markup on the materials, a sixteen-percent profit margin, and a twelve-percent overhead charge for the services performed. According to the itemization provided by Shannon Electric, Opportunity Knocks owed $20,401.12, in addition to the down payment.*fn2 A few weeks later, Shannon Electric notified Opportunity Knocks of its intent to file a mechanic's lien, alleging that an amount of $10,471.33 remained outstanding.*fn3 Shannon Electric eventually filed a Statement of Lien in the amount of $9,316.26.*fn4
[¶4] Opportunity Knocks filed in the district court a Verified Petition to Invalidate Lien and Application for Ex Parte Order to Show Cause, pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 29-1-311(b). In its petition, Opportunity Knocks contended that Shannon Electric improperly included profit, overhead, and markups in its lien statement and that the labor portion of the lien statement did not specifically state the dates, times, and hours worked. The district court denied the petition. Specifically, the district court concluded that Opportunity Knocks failed to carry its burden of proving that Shannon Electric knew at the time of filing its lien statement that it was groundless, or that it contained a material misstatement, or that it was a false claim. The district court also concluded that it was the "better policy" to allow a party to assert a lien for profits, overhead, and markups. Finally, the district court held that the lien amount and description of labor and materials supplied was not a material misstatement because the lien statutes did not require Shannon Electric to provide specific details relating to the dates, times, and individuals who performed the labor, and although there were minor misstatements in the lien statement, none of those misstatements were material, nor did any of them mislead or prejudice Opportunity Knocks. This appeal by Opportunity Knocks timely followed.
WYO. STAT. ANN. § 29-1-311(b)
[¶5] Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 29-1-311(b) provides in pertinent part as follows:
(b) Any person whose real or personal property is subject to a recorded claim of lien who believes . . . that the person claiming the lien knew at the time of filing the lien was groundless, contained a material misstatement or false claim, may petition the district court of the county in which the ...