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Think Architecture, LLC v. Cheer, Inc.

Superior Court of Delaware

January 16, 2019

Think Architecture, LLC
v.
Cheer, Inc. and Cheer Apartments, L.P.

          Ryan M. Ernst, Esq O' Kelly Ernst & Joyce, LLC

          John A. Sergovic, Jr. Esq Sergovic Carmean Weidman Mccarthy & Owens, P.A.

          E. SCOTT BRADLEY JUDGE.

         Dear Counsel:

         This is my decision on the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings filed by Defendants Cheer, Inc. and Cheer Apartments, L.P. against Plaintiff Think Architecture, LLC in this mechanics' lien action involving the unbuilt Cheer Life Care Village in Georgetown, Delaware. Think Architecture is an architectural firm. Cheer, Inc. is the owner of 35 acres of land in Georgetown, Delaware. Cheer Apartments is the owner of 6.2143 acres of land in Georgetown, Delaware. The lands owned by Cheer, Inc. and Cheer Apartments are contiguous to each other. The Cheer Life Care Village is an unbuilt facility that would lie within the lands of both Cheer, Inc. and Cheer Apartments. Think Architecture alleges in its Complaint that Cheer, Inc. and Cheer Apartments contracted with RRR, LLC for a development project -presumably the Cheer Life Care Village - and that RRR, LLC in turn entered into a subcontract with Think Architecture for architectural services. Think Architecture further alleges that it prepared for RRR, LLC a Master Plan Design and Rendering of the Cheer Life Care Village for $40, 414.31. Think Architecture seeks a mechanics' lien in the amount of $40, 414.31 on the Defendants' lands. Think Architecture is entitled to pursue a mechanics' lien pursuant to 25 Del. C. §2702(b), which allows architects to pursue a mechanics' lien for "services rendered and labor performed and materials furnished by" them.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A party may move for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Civil Rule 12(c).[1] In determining a motion under Civil Rule 12(c) for judgment on the pleadings, the Court is required to view the facts pleaded and the inferences to be drawn from such facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party.[2] The Court must take the well-pleaded facts alleged in the complaint as admitted.[3] When considering a motion under Civil Rule 12(c), the Court also assumes the truthfulness of all well-plead allegations of fact in the complaint.[4] The Court must, therefore, accord plaintiffs opposing a Rule 1 2(c) motion the same benefits as a plaintiff defending a motion under Civil Rule 12(b)(6).[5] The Court may grant a motion for judgment on the pleadings only when no material issue of fact exists and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.[6]

         DISCUSSION

         1. Improvements To Land Only.

         The Defendants argue that 25 Del. C. §2703 bars Think Architecture's Complaint for a mechanics' lien. Section 2703 provides:

No lien shall attach in case the improvements are to the land alone, unless a contract in writing, signed by the owner or owners thereof, setting forth the names of all parties to the contract and containing a description by the metes and bounds of the land to be affected and by a statement of the general character of the work to be done, and of the total amount to be paid thereunder, and the amounts of the partial payments, together with the time when such payments shall be due and payable.

         The Defendants argue that Think Architecture's architectural services were improvements to land alone and that there is no written contract between the Defendants and Think Architecture. Think Architecture prepared a Master Plan Design and Rendering of the Cheer Life Care Village. This is a drawing showing the possible location of buildings, roads, parking lots, a lake, and storm water management pond. However, none of this has been built. Thus, in a physical sense, there have been no improvements to the Defendants' lands. Given this, the Defendants' argument fails.

         2. Timing.

         The Defendants argue that Think Architecture did not file its Complaint in time. 25 Del. C. ยง2711(b) requires a mechanics' lien complaint to be filed within "120 days from the date from the completion of the labor performed or from the last delivery of materials furnished by them respectively." Think Architecture filed its Complaint on August 28, 2018. The Defendants allege that Think Architecture completed its work on January 31, 2018. This allegation is based on the date of Think Architecture's invoice to RRR, LLC. The invoice is actually dated January 31, 2017. Regardless of whether it is 2017 or 2018, Think Architecture's Complaint would be untimely based on the invoice date. However, Think Architecture's Complaint alleges that it ...


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