United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Bissoon, United States District Judge
Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 16) will be granted, and Plaintiff
will be given one final opportunity to amend its pleadings.
September 2, 2014, Defendant and Plaintiff entered into a
Master Services Agreement (“Agreement”), whereby
Plaintiff agreed to “furnish labor and materials to
complete well sites.” Am. Compl. (ECF No. 13) ¶ 3.
All of the work performed by Plaintiff related to three wells
located on the Gallagher Pad in Washington County,
Pennsylvania: Well #H13, Well #H14 and Well #H15.
Id. ¶ 7. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
improperly withheld $1, 651, 250.00 in payments following the
completion of the project. Id. ¶¶ 20, 32,
December 23, 2015, Plaintiff filed a “Notice of
Materialman's and Mechanic's Liens”
(“Notice”) in the Court of Common Pleas of
Washington County, Pennsylvania, with respect to each of the
three wells on which it performed work. Id. at Ex.
A, D, G. The three Notices bear the signature of Mark E.
Layton, Plaintiff's CFO. Id. Each Notice alleges
that Plaintiff “performed labor and furnished material,
machinery and supplies . . . in connection with drilling
and/or operation” of the wells. Id. Attached
to the Notices are invoices and field tickets containing
charges for items such as water, sand, “stimulation
charge, ” “remote data transmission, ”
“pump down e-line service, ” “goat head
charge” and “safety shower.” Id.
contends that this action should be dismissed for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1) because the Notices filed by Plaintiff in
Washington County were defective on their face.
Defendant's argument can be characterized as a factual
attack on the Court's subject matter jurisdiction, as it
is challenging the Court's “very power to hear the
case.” Mortensen v. First Federal Sav. & Loan
Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977).
Accordingly, the Court is “free to weigh the evidence
and satisfy itself as to the existence of its power to hear
the case.” Id. Plaintiff bears the burden of
showing that jurisdiction does in fact exist. Id.
also argues that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). “To survive a motion to
dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
When faced with a motion to dismiss, a court “must
accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true,
but may disregard any legal conclusions.” Fowler v.
UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009).
asserts two interrelated arguments in support of dismissal:
(1) Plaintiff has failed to allege that the work that it
performed on the well project is the type of activity that
can invoke a mechanic's lien; and (2) Plaintiff has
failed to allege that the project on which it performed that
work - in this case, an oil drilling operation - satisfies
the requirements of Pennsylvania's mechanics' lien
statute as a matter of law.
Pennsylvania Mechanics' Lien Law, enacted in 1963,
Every improvement and the estate or title of the owner in the
property shall be subject to a lien . . . for the payment of
debts due by the owner to the contractor or by the contractor
to any of his subcontractors for labor or materials furnished
in the erection or construction, or the alteration or
repair of the improvement . . .
49 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 1301 (emphasis added).
“Erection and construction” is defined as
“the erection and construction of a new improvement or
of a substantial addition to an existing improvement or any
adaptation of an existing improvement rendering the same fit
for a new or distinct use and effecting a material change in
the interior or exterior thereof.” Id. at
§ 1201. “Alteration and repair” is defined
as “any alteration or repair of an existing
improvement” that does not satisfy the definition of
“erection and construction.” Id.
courts consistently have limited the availability of a
mechanic's lien to “work which was connected with
and an integral part of the erection, construction,
alteration or repair of a building or other permanent
structure.” Yellow Run Coal Co. v Yellow Run
Energy Co., 420 A.2d 690, 691 (Pa. Super. 1980). Thus, a
mechanic's lien cannot attach to land “for work
unconnected with the construction of a building or other