Referee Nina Kurtz
Scarano Architect sought foreclosure of a mechanic’s lien. 6422 Holding counterclaimed for damages based on willful exaggeration of a mechanic’s lien under Lien Law §39. Scarano’s invoices indicated 6422 still owed nearly $70,000, and later added 18 percent interest to the bill, despite the contract making no provisions for same. The court found while much of the completed work and costs appeared to have been done and necessary, some of the charges were "unilaterally concocted" by Scarano without a reasonable explanation. Referee found the interest charges were not authorized or mentioned in the contract, and could not be claimed as an honest mistake. Referee noted the timing of the charges supported a finding of wilfulness as they were made immediately before the filing of the mechanic’s lien or were so far removed in time from their accrual indicating they were retaliatory, or made to inflate the bill. Referee concluded Scarano knowingly and intentionally added unauthorized charges to 6422′s account, ruling 6422 met its burden of proving willful exaggeration of the lien. It declared Scarano’s mechanic’s lien void, and dismissed the claim.