Friday, August 16, 2013

Make Sure You Have The Right License

Bindela Construction LLC was a licensed general contractor in New York City.  Its principal, Iancu Bindela, was a licensed NYC Home Improvement Salesperson.  So when Bindela Construction LLC wasn't paid for home improvement work that it performed in New York City, it was probably confident it would have no problem pursuing the claim and enforcing a mechanic's lien.  Bindela was very wrong.

In Bindela Construction LLC v. Campo, the home owner, Mr. Campo, moved to dismiss Bindela's claim and its lien.  The argument was that Bindela failed to allege in its complaint that it was a licensed home improvement contractor and, therefore, that the complaint was fatally defective pursuant to CPLR Section 3015(e).  Because an unlicensed home improvement contractor may not recover for work performed without a license, under any theory, the lien would also be invalidated if there was no valid home improvement contractor's license.  Despite Bindela's best efforts, the Court here was not convinced that a general contractor's license or a home improvement sales person license satisfied the requirement to have a valid home improvement contractor's license in NYC and, therefore, dismissed the complaint and the lien.

Here the claimant learned a valuable, but very painful, lesson:  make sure you have the correct license when performing construction work.  In addition to being illegal, and often a crime, performing work that requires a license without that exact license usually means you forfeit the right to payment regardless of the quality of your work.

Vincent T. Pallaci is the managing partner of the law firm of Kushnick | Pallaci PLLC where his practice concentrates on construction law including prosecuting and defending mechanic's liens.  With offices in Buffalo and Long Island, KP represents the construction industry across the State of New York.

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