CROSS APPEALS from a judgment of the Supreme Court, entered October 16, 1952, in New York County upon a decision of the court on a trial at Special Term (FRANK, J.). The action was brought to foreclose a mechanic's lien. Plaintiff claimed that defendant Washington Avenue Plumbing & Heating Co., Inc., owed it $12,000. The trial court found that said defendant owed $1,852.53 to defendant lienor Webster Plumbing Supply, Inc., and owed $607.84 to defendant lienor Harlem Plumbing Supply Co., Inc.; that the defendant Pioneer Syndicate, Inc., the owner of the premises, owed $2,886.44 to said defendant Washington Avenue Plumbing & Heating Co., Inc., and that said $2,886.44 was applicable to the payment of said three liens. The judgment decreed that the three lienors had valid liens for their respective prorated shares in the sum of $2,886.44; and said shares were adjudged to be $2,427.96, $337.71, and $121.23, respectively. The judgment further recited that defendant Pioneer Syndicate, Inc., and defendant United States Fidelity & Guaranty Co. had filed bonds as principal and surety for the payment of any judgment which might be recovered against the property and had thereupon obtained orders canceling the mechanics' liens of record; and the judgment thereupon awarded to the lienors, in lieu of foreclosure, money judgments against Pioneer Syndicate, Inc., and said surety company for $2,427.96, $337.71, and $121.23. The judgment further awarded a money judgment of $12,000 and interest in favor of plaintiff against defendant Washington Avenue Plumbing & Heating Co., Inc. Plaintiff, as well as the defendants Pioneer Syndicate, Inc., and the surety company, appealed from the part of the judgment which fixed $2,886.44 as the amount applicable to the liens; and said defendants also appealed from the adjudication that Washington Avenue Plumbing & Heating Co., Inc., owed plaintiff $12,000.
Lawrence H. Levinson for appellant-respondent.
Morris Wagman of counsel (Goodman & Mabel, attorneys), for respondents-appellants.
Cross appeals have been taken by plaintiff, a materialman, and by defendant, the owner of certain real property situated on West 14th Street, New York City, from a judgment awarding plaintiff a mechanic's lien and granting a money judgment against the owner and against the company which bonded the lien.
The record on appeal is abbreviated, consisting solely of the pleadings and the findings and conclusions of the trial court as revealed in its opinion. On this record we are called upon to decide merely whether the findings of fact warrant the legal conclusions drawn.
The case involves material furnished by plaintiff to a plumbing contractor, Washington Avenue Heating & Plumbing Co. ('Washington'), and we are required to determine whether there was any amount due to the contractor which was available to plaintiff's lien.
Two questions are discussed in the trial court's opinion: (1) whether there was any fund to which the lien could attach on the day it was filed; and (2) whether subsequent to filing and upon completion of the building a fund was created to which the lien attached.
The owner, Pioneer Syndicate, Inc. ('Pioneer') contracted directly with Washington for the plumbing work for an agreed price of $30,250. Plaintiff claimed that it had not been paid for $12,000 worth of materials furnished to Washington and filed a mechanic's lien on October 20, 1952. Four days later Pioneer declared Washington's contract breached for financial inability to complete.
We do not have the contract or the testimony before us. Nor do we have the letter of Pioneer to Washington declaring the breach. We are bound by the trial court's findings. We think that its statement that Pioneer 'took over completion', read in its context, means that it took over completion of Washington's contract.
The trial court then went on to find that 80% of the work had been completed when the lien was filed. It computed 80% of the contract price of $30,250, less 15% for retained percentages provided for by the contract, to make $20,570 as the amount earned by Washington up to termination of its contract. It was further found that $21,679.81 had been paid to Washington up to that time. It follows from these findings that there was nothing due to Washington on October 20, 1952, to which plaintiff's lien could then attach.
The parties discuss at some length whether the trial court was correct in excluding the 15% of retained percentages from plaintiff's lien. We agree with the trial court that the 15% was not subject to this lien on October 20, 1952. ( Kelly v. ...