Legal Question in Real Estate Law in California

what does DOES I-50 mean? also, a builder was renting a property that they sold to a private buyer two years ago. The builder hired a landscaping company to improve the front yard. The builder left and never paid the bill. How can the private buyer get out of the mechanical lien that was filed against the property? The private buyer had no knowledge of it until the buyer received a summons.

Asked on 8/03/09, 2:58 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Roy Hoffman Law Offices of Roy A. Hoffman

When plaintiff's lawyers draft complaints, in addition to naming the defendants whose identities are known, they also name DOE defendants (DOES 1-50 means the lawyer is naming 50 fictitious defendants by the name of DOE). If, during the pendency of the lawsuit, the plaintiff's lawyer discovers the real name of someone who is responsible for the plaintiff's losses, they can prepare a "DOE amendment" and add the true name of a previously fictitious defendant. Naming DOE defendants allows the plaintiff to bring in new defendants after the statute of limitation has run because the DOE amendment "relates back" to the filing of the original complaint.

There are very strict time limits on foreclosing on a mechanic's lien which are strictly enforced. However, the lien is recorded against the property to ensure payment of the (in this case, the landscaping company) claims for work, goods and services provided to improve the real property. If you had no kowledge of the claim until you were served with a summons and complaint, and the builder "left and never paid the bill" the lien may have been recorded before you owned the property, in which case, your title insurer may have to defend the action. Try tendering the defense of the action to your title insurer and your homeowner's insurer. However, in the meantime, you MUST respond to the Summons and Complaint or you will lose the right to participate in the lawsuit and the plaintiff will be able to obtain a default judgment against you.

To stop the foreclosure action (which is probably what has been served upon you), you need to either pay the amount of the claim or come to some understanding with the landscaper (which must be in writing) to halt the action.

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Answered on 8/03/09, 8:03 pm

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