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Sargeant Brothers, Inc. v. Brancati

Decided: October 20, 1930.

SARGEANT BROTHERS, INCORPORATED, RESPONDENT,
v.
E. M. BRANCATI, APPELLANT



On appeal from a judgment of the Supreme Court.

For the appellant, Eugene A. Liotta.

For the respondent, T. Girard Wharton (Russell E. Watson, of counsel).

Trenchard

The opinion of the court was delivered by

TRENCHARD, J. This is the appeal of the defendant below from a judgment of the Supreme Court entered upon a verdict for the plaintiff at the Somerset Circuit.

It appears without dispute that on December 2d, 1927, defendant and one Miller entered into two written contracts each for the construction of a house in Plainfield, Union county, upon lands owned by the defendant; that thereafter on December 7th, 1927, the contracts, together with the specifications accompanying the same, were filed in the office of the clerk of the county of Union; that the plaintiff corporation thereafter sold and delivered to the contractor certain materials which were used in the construction of the buildings; that the contractor failed to pay for such materials; that the plaintiff served two stop-notices, one under each contract, upon the defendant on March 29th, 1928, and May 5th, 1928, respectively, and that the defendant refused to pay the plaintiff the amounts claimed under the respective stop-notices.

This suit was brought in the Supreme Court by the plaintiff to recover from the defendant the amount of such claims, pursuant to section 3 of the Mechanics' Lien act (Comp. Stat., p. 3290, as amended by Pamph. L. 1917, p. 821), and plaintiff obtained the judgment now under review.

The main contention raised and argued by the defendant is that "the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction to try the issues involved," the argument being that the Circuit Court had exclusive jurisdiction.

We think that the Supreme Court of the State of New Jersey has original jurisdiction to try a suit on a stop-notice arising under section 3 of the Mechanics' Lien act.

The defendant contends that section 23 of the act deprives a materialman or laborer who has complied with the provisions

of section 3 of the right to bring suit in the Supreme Court to enforce his claim against the owner. But that is not so.

The defendant argues that the rights of a stop-notice claimant against an owner are a "lien" within the meaning of section 23 and therefore must be enforced in the Circuit Court. But the defendant fails to recognize the fundamental and material distinctions in the legal relations between materialman and owner, depending upon the ...


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