Justia Construction Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
In re: Linear Electric Co., Inc.
Suppliers sold electrical materials to Linear, which Linear incorporated into construction projects. The developers did not pay Linear for its work and Linear did not pay Suppliers. In July 2015, Linear filed a voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition; two weeks later, Suppliers filed construction liens on the developments into which Linear had incorporated the materials purchased from Suppliers. The bankruptcy court discharged the liens as violating the automatic stay that resulted from the bankruptcy petition. Linear then collected the full amounts owed by the developers. The bankruptcy court held that the construction liens were void ab initio for violation of the automatic stay. The district court and Third Circuit affirmed. Under New Jersey law, if a supplier sells materials on credit to a construction contractor and the contractor incorporates those materials into property owned by a third party without paying the supplier, the supplier can file for a lien on the third-party property. The courts rejected Suppliers’ argument that the liens attached to the third-party properties, not to the property of the bankruptcy estate. The courts reasoned that, under state law, the ability to create and the value of the liens depend on the amount that the contractor owes the suppliers--the value of the contractor’s accounts receivable--and fall within the definition of property of the estate, 11 U.S.C. 541. View "In re: Linear Electric Co., Inc." on Justia Law