An aircraft maintenance company went about fixing a Boeing 767 brought in for service. After completing its work, the shop returned the jet to its owners along with a bill for the repairs. When, in a few months, the shop didn’t get paid, it placed a repairman’s lien on the plane – recording notice of the monies it was owed. Suit was eventually filed to foreclose the lien; an open and shut case thought the repair shop. But in what could become a game changer for all those whose business practice has been to release items before getting paid, the court denied the lien enforcement action.
Such claims for labor or services on personal property – a boat, a car, a plane – are possessory in nature. The court therefore found that a repairman’s right to claim a lien is extinguished when he relinquishes possession of the property he repaired. The shop needed to hold on to that jet until it got paid, at least if it expected to protect its lien rights. Possession being 9/10’s of the law couldn’t be more true here.