On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County.
Bischoff, J. H. Coleman and Gaulkin. The opinion of the court was delivered by Bischoff, P.J.A.D.
This appeal raises issues relating to the stop notice provisions of the Mechanics' Lien Law, N.J.S.A. 2A:44-75. The facts are essentially undisputed.
Defendant Lan Associates III ("Lan") is a Connecticut limited partnership formed for the purpose of exercising an option to purchase land on which certain buildings were to be erected. It presently owns one of the completed buildings. On October 10, 1978 Lan entered into a contract with defendant Action Builders Co., Inc. ("Action") for construction of "Commercial Centre Offices." Lan was identified in the contract as the owner and Action as the contractor.
Action is a Connecticut corporation, with offices at the same address as Lan. It was incorporated for the purpose of constructing Parkway Towers Buildings A & B on the land in question.
On December 8, 1978 plaintiff Consolidated Precast, Inc. entered into a subcontract with Action wherein plaintiff agreed to fabricate and erect architectural precast concrete panels for use in the construction of Parkway Towers Building A for the consideration of $229,400. The contract called for completion of the work by plaintiff by August 31, 1979.
On December 29, 1978 Lan acquired title to the property in question by deed recorded January 8, 1979, and the same day the Lan/Action contract was filed pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:44-75. The contract was filed prior to plaintiff performing any work or furnishing any materials for the job.
Lan conveyed the property a few weeks later to defendant Commercial Centre Associates, Ltd. ("Commercial") by deed dated February 14, 1979 and recorded March 6, 1979. Also on
February 14, 1979, Commercial, as owner, and Lan, as contractor, entered into a contract for Lan to build two office buildings on the land in question for a consideration of $6,402,803.
Work by plaintiff on the project proceeded and was completed. Plaintiff was paid part of the contract price, but a balance remained in dispute. Because it had not been paid, plaintiff filed a stop notice with the Middlesex County Clerk dated March 4, 1980 and filed March 7, 1980. The stop notice was addressed to Commercial and/or Lan as owner and gave notice that Action was indebted to plaintiff in the sum of $116,648.61 for services performed in the construction of Parkway Towers Building A and demanded that the owner retain said sum out of the monies due Action. Copies of the stop notice were served upon Commercial and Lan.
At the time plaintiff filed the stop notice the Lan/Action contract was the only construction contract of record. This contract was discharged of record by Lan on April 17, 1980. Thereafter, on June 9, 1980 the contract between Commercial, as owner, and Lan, as contractor, was recorded.
Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking to enforce its lien claim against Lan and Commercial. The amount of the claim and Action's liability therefor are not in dispute. After filing and service of the stop notice, proofs disclosed Commercial paid Lan and ...