SHAD ALAN BATES and TRISHA DIANE BATES, husband and wife, Appellants (Defendants),
THE CHICAGO LUMBER COMPANY OF OMAHA, doing business as Century Lumber Center, Appellee (Plaintiff). THE CHICAGO LUMBER COMPANY OF OMAHA, doing business as Century Lumber Center, Appellant (Plaintiff),
SHAD ALAN BATES and TRISHA DIANE BATES, husband and wife, Appellees (Defendants).
from the District Court of Goshen County The Honorable Wade
E. Waldrip, Judge
Representing Shad Alan Bates and Trisha Diane Bates: James A.
Eddington, Jones & Eddington Law Offices, Torrington,
Representing Chicago Lumber Company of Omaha: John J. Maier,
John J. Maier Law Offices, Torrington, Wyoming.
BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, and FOX, JJ., and ROGERS, D.J.
Appellee Chicago Lumber Company of Omaha, doing business as
Century Lumber Center (Century), supplied materials to a
contractor, Anderson Carpentry and Construction (Anderson),
which built a home for the Appellants Shad and Trisha Bates
(the Bates). Although the Bates paid Anderson for the
materials used in the home, those funds were applied to
various other accounts, which caused the account with Century
on the Bates job to become delinquent. Century ultimately
filed a material lien against the Bates property and
instituted proceedings to enforce it. The district court
enforced the lien as requested. We reverse.
The parties collectively raise four issues:
1. Did the district court err as a matter of law when it
granted Century Lumber's Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment concerning the validity of the lien?
2. Did the district court abuse its discretion by finding
that Century Lumber timely filed its lien and that the work
or materials were furnished under the same contract?
3. Did the district court err in concluding that the
inclusion of materials and nonlienable charges in the
recorded lien did not cause the lien in this matter to be a
false and frivolous lien?
4. Did the district court err in determining that prejudgment
interest cannot be included in a materialman's lien?
We find the answer to the second issue as to the timeliness
of Century's lien to be dispositive, and thus address
only that issue.
For reasons that are explained in connection with our
discussion of the standard of review, we look to a decision
letter and order granting a partial summary judgment and an
order after a bench trial on the remaining issues for the
facts of this case. The Bates purchased real property in
Goshen County, Wyoming in June of 2010. Sometime before
October 15, 2010, they contracted with Anderson to serve as
the general contractor in the construction of a home and
other improvements to the property. The Bates ultimately paid
Anderson $249, 800.00, a portion of which was to be used to
purchase building materials.
Anderson contracted with Century to purchase the necessary
supplies and raw materials to build the Bates home. The two
companies had a long-standing business relationship, and
Anderson kept an open master account with Century to make
charges as needed. The Bates construction project was opened
as a subaccount of Anderson's master account, which, as
we will see, initially allowed Anderson to charge materials
for that job and pay for them later. Century first provided
materials to Anderson for the Bates project on or about
October 15, 2010.
Century had two different methods for applying payments it
received from contractors. If Century received a
"generic" payment, meaning one not specified as
applying to a particular account, it first applied the funds
to the contractor's oldest outstanding charges and then
to later charges. "Specific" payments were applied
to particular subaccounts identified by the contractor.
Anderson periodically made "generic" payments to
his master account using money the Bates paid him. These
payments were therefore not credited to the Bates subaccount
in their entirety. Between October 15, 2010 and July 1, 2011,
Century provided Anderson with approximately $57, 161.37 in
materials for the Bates project but because the payments
Anderson made were "generic, " Century applied only
$14, 966.81 to the Bates subaccount. Anderson was basically
reducing his oldest balances on other jobs with the
Bates' money. Therefore, the Bates account became
delinquent, with a balance of $42, 194.56 by July 1, 2011.
Ken Owens (Owens), Century's manager, had a number of
conversations with Anderson about the delinquent status of
the Bates account, and he informed Anderson that Century
might assert a lien against the Bates property to ensure
payment. On July 1, 2011, Century prohibited Anderson from
making future charges for materials for the Bates home
because of the delinquency. Of course, Century was willing to
sell materials to Anderson for cash, and did so after that
point in time.
On July 22, 2011, approximately 280 days after Century first
supplied materials to Anderson in connection with the Bates
project, Century mailed a Notice of Lien Liability
to the Bates. This was the first time they were notified
that their contractor was in arrears, and that they could be
responsible for the outstanding debt to Century. Shortly
after receiving this notice, the Bates contacted Owens, who
confirmed that the subaccount Anderson established with
Century in connection with the Bates project was delinquent.
Owens also notified the Bates that Century might file a lien
against their property if the subaccount remained unpaid.
Century then allowed Anderson to charge some materials for
the Bates home in September and October of
On October 21, 2011, Century sent a Wyoming Notice to
Owner to the Bates by certified mail. That same day,
Century mailed a more extensive Notice of Lien
Liability to all parties involved in the
dispute. One month later, on November 29, 2011,
Century mailed a Notice of Intent to File Lien to
the Bates and to Anderson. Owens also drove to the Bates
residence where he hand-delivered the Notice of Intent to
File Lien to Shad Bates. On December 23, 2011, Century
recorded its Statement of Lien against the Bates
property, and on December 27, 2011, Century delivered a
Notice of Filing Lien to the Bates and other
interested parties. Finally, on June 18, 2012, Century filed
a complaint seeking, among other things, to foreclose the
lien against the Bates property.
After reviewing the invoices attached to the Statement of
Lien, the Bates contested certain charges. In an effort
to accommodate their concerns, Century deducted the entire
contested amount except one charge totaling $1, 348.50 for
150 sheets of drywall. At trial, Century sought judgment in
its favor for $37, 438.53 in principal, $20, 949.61 in
contract-based interest, and costs of $659.00. The interest
was calculated at ...