Can the mechanic put a lien against my vehicle for repairs and storage?

Full Question:

I have an automobile at a mechanics shop in Alabama. The shop is trying to charge for the repairs and storage. How many days of storage can they charge me for and do they have to file a lien to keep me from getting my car?
04/21/2009   |   Category: Civil Actions ยป Liens   |   State: Alabama   |   #16075

Answer:

A lien is a claim to property for the payment of a debt, typically one connected to the property. It is the right to retain the lawful possession of the property of another until the owner fulfills a legal duty to the person holding the property, such as the payment of lawful charges for work done on the property. The right of lien generally arises by operation of law, but in some cases it is created by express contract. There are two kinds of liens; particular and general. When a person claims a right to retain property, due to money or labor invested in that property, it is a particular lien. Liens may arise by express contract; from implied contract, as from general or particular usage of trade; or by legal relation between the parties, such as created with common carriers and inn keepers. In certain circumstances, the lien holder may foreclose on the property if the debt is not paid in full.

To create a valid lien, it is essential that the party claiming a lien should have the absolute property or ownership of the thing or, at least, a right to vest it; that the party claiming the lien should have an actual or constructive, possession, with the assent of the party against whom the claim is made; that the lien should arise upon an agreement, express or implied and not be for a limited or specific purpose that contradicts the express terms or the clear, intent of the contract. In certain circumstances, the lien holder may foreclose on the property if the debt is not paid in full. Liens can generally be removed by the payment of the amount owed. This payment can occur at any time up to and including the stage at which the closing documents for the sale of the property are signed.

There are several types of liens, all of which could cloud the title and prevent the seller from conveying marketable title to the buyer. A judgment lien is created when a court grants a creditor an interest in the debtor's property, based upon a court judgment. A judgment lien can be filed if an actual judgment in a lawsuit is obtained from a court. Such cases include failure to pay a debt, including credit cards, bank loans, or deficiency judgments on repossessed vehicles. In some circumstances, judgments can be enforced by sale of property until the amount due is satisfied. Alabama statutes do not contain a maximum number of days for storage costs. An aoto mechanic doesn't need to file the lien with the recorder's office, but a notice must be sent to the owner.

The following are Alabama statutes:

§ 35-11-110. Lien declared.

Any blacksmith, woodworkman or other mechanic who contributes
his labor and material, or either, to the production,
manufacture or repair of any vehicle, implement, machine or
article of any kind, shall have a lien thereon in the hands of
any person for whom such vehicle, implement, machine or
article was made or repaired, or to whom sold, and in the hands of any
purchaser with notice of such lien, for the agreed price, or
the value if no price was agreed upon, of the labor and
material, or either, contributed to the production, manufacture
or repair of the same. Said lien shall be subordinate to any
security interest under the Uniform Commercial Code in such
vehicle, implement, machine or article, which security interest
was perfected prior to the time said labor or material was
contributed, unless the secured party holding said security
interest authorized the contribution of said labor or material.

§ 35-11-111. Right to enforce lien by attachment.

Any person entitled thereto may enforce such lien in any
court of competent jurisdiction, by attachment issued by any
officer authorized to issue such writs, upon executing bond as
in other cases of attachment, and upon making affidavit that
the attachment is not sued out for the purpose of vexing or
harassing the defendant, and describing the property on which
the lien is claimed and setting forth all the facts necessary
to the creation of the lien under section 35-11-110, and the
amount due, and that one of the following causes of attachment
exists:

(1) That the person for whom such vehicle, implement,
machine or article was made or repaired, or to whom sold, is
the owner thereof, and that the price, if agreed on, or if
not, the value of the same, or of the repair thereof, or some
part of either, is due and unpaid.

(2) That the person for whom such vehicle, implement,
machine or article was made or repaired, or to whom sold, has
transferred or sold the same to a purchaser with notice of
the lien, and that the price, if agreed on, or if not, the
value of the same, or of the repair thereof, or of some
part of either, is due and unpaid.


§ 35-11-6. Limitations; trial of cases of attachment.

All cases arising under the provisions of this chapter where
the process of attachment is authorized for the enforcement of
any lien declared hereby, except in cases of agisters or
trainer liens and the lien declared to the owners of the
stallions, jacks, bulls, etc., and, unless otherwise
particularly provided for, must be commenced within six months
after the demand becomes due; and unless commenced within that
time, the lien is lost. All cases of attachment arising under
the provisions of this chapter shall stand for trial at the
time and shall be tried in the manner and upon the notice
required in other attachment cases.

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