In the case of B.N. Excavating v. PBC Hollow-A, the Pennsylvania Superior Court held that it is not always necessary to show that a structure has been erected in order for a mechanics lien to be filed in Pennsylvania. Rather, the majority of the Court ruled that where land excavation is an integral part of the overall construction plan for a building, a mechanics lien could possibly be filed for that work, even where no structure has been built. The en banc panel noted that the seminal case of Sampson-Miller Associated Companies v. Landmark Realty Co. does not stand for the proposition that a mechanics lien can never be filed if a structure has not been erected.
The dissenting judges in B.N. Excavating noted that there was never any allegation that a structure was ever erected. Therefore, in their opinion, a mechanics lien cannot be filed as no structure exists. The majority of the en banc panel stated that the B.N Excavating ruling does not stand for the proposition that a mechanics lien can be filed against land which has no correlation to the construction of a permanent structure. However, where land excavation is an integral component of the overall development of a structure, a mechanics lien can attach to the land, even without the construction of a permanent structure.
The B.N. Excavating case is a tremendous victory for land excavators and potentially other subcontractors. In a difficult economic environment, there is a great potential for subcontractors to perform work on projects in which a permanent structure is never ultimately erected.