A CONTRACTOR’S VIOLATION OF HICPA DOES NOT PREVENT RECOVERY IN QUASI-CONTRACT OR THE ENFORCEMENT OF A MECHANIC’S LIEN CLAIM
6/4/2013 | Construction Blog
In Pennsylvania, a contractor may recover damages by the enforcement of a mechanics lien or by quantum meruit for work performed even where the contractor’s written home improvement contract was invalid.
In the recent case of Shafer Elec. & Constr. v. Mantia, a contractor entered into a written home improvement contract with two homeowners for the construction of an addition to an existing garage. Upon completion of work, the homeowners failed to pay the contractor. The contractor filed a mechanic’s lien and a separate complaint for breach of contract, unjust enrichment and quantum meruit asserting that the homeowners’ owed $37,874.26 for work completed. The homeowners filed preliminary objections alleging that the contractor (who was not licensed in Pennsylvania) could not recover on any of its claims because the written home improvement contract was invalid and unenforceable under The Pennsylvania Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (“HICPA”). The trial court agreed, sustained the objections, and dismissed the contractor’s complaint with prejudice. The trial court also declared the mechanic’s lien improper.
On appeal, the Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the decision of the trial court by holding that a violation of HICPA does not prevent a contractor from recovering damages under theories of quasi-contract. Section 517.7(g) permits equitable recoveries where the Court deems it appropriate. This recent decision is in line with the Court’s 2012 decision in Durst v. Milroyrelating to an oral contract that violated HICPA.