Vanderbilt Law Review


Paul J. Hartman

First Page



Mechanics Liens

Two cases during the Survey period involve priorities between mortgages and mechanics' liens. They are Southern Blow Pipe & Roofing Co. v. Grubb,' and First State Bank v. Stacey. Before giving a detailed consideration of these cases, perhaps it would not be amiss to sketch in a little background by way of the general nature and scope of these mechanics' liens, as well as a few words concerning priorities with other liens. This introductory material may make the cases at hand a little more easily understood.

Origin Nature and Scope of the Lien

The term "mechanics' lien" includes all sorts of liens not only of mechanics, but of laborers, material men and other furnishers. These liens have no likeness at common law; they are a creature of statute. We know when the idea entered into our legislation and the occasion. These liens originated, we are told, with a Maryland statute of 1791, and the motive was to stimulate the building of the City of Washington. So popular did the idea become, that every state now has a mechanic "lien law" of some sort. Because these liens are wholly statutory and because the laws creating them have been extremely varied, generalizations are extremely difficult. Furthermore, case law is not reliable because the decisions are meaningless except with reference to the particular statute under which each arose and the precise language of the statute under which the case arose.