SAMUEL SCHELL, TRADING AND DOING BUSINESS AS QUALI-TE-LAWN CARE SERVICES, POST OFFICE BOX 384CHAMPION, PENNSYLVANIA 15622, Appellant
RICHARD V. MURPHY, 198 CENTERVILLE ROAD BEDFORD, PENNSYLVANIA 15522, Appellee
from the Order Entered April 11, 2016, in the Court of Common
Pleas of Bedford County, Civil Division at No(s): No. 50002
BEFORE: LAZARUS, SOLANO, and STRASSBURGER, [*] JJ.
Schell, trading and doing business as Quali-Te-Lawn Care
Services (Schell), appeals from the order entered April 11,
2016, which granted preliminary objections filed by Richard
V. Murphy (Murphy) in this mechanics' lien action, and
dismissed Schell's complaint. Upon review, we reverse the
order of the trial court and remand for proceedings
consistent with this opinion.
January 15, 2016, Schell, through counsel, filed a
mechanics' lien claim against Murphy, who was the title
owner of residential property located in Bedford,
Pennsylvania. Schell averred that on July 31, 2015, he was
contracted by Murphy and his wife, Phyllis Murphy (Wife),
"to install underground drainage lines and a sewage line
to, from and about the residence, to erect and construct a
stone masonry retaining wall, steps and walkways to and from
the residence, and regrade the driveway serving the
residence." Mechanics' Lien Claim, 1/15/2016, at
¶ 3. Schell began performing work pursuant to the
contract on August 18, 2015, and was "told … to
leave the premises" on November 20, 2015. Id.
at ¶ 6. According to Schell, at the time he was
"directed to leave the premises, substantially all of
the [i]mprovements were complete." Id. at
¶ 7. Thus, Schell filed a claim for a mechanics'
lien in the amount of $17, 484.23 plus interest and costs.
January 28, 2016, Murphy filed preliminary objections to the
mechanics' lien claim. Specifically, Murphy argued that
the mechanics' lien claim "must be dismissed for
failure to join an indispensable party, to wit, [Wife], thus
depriving the [trial court] of subject matter
jurisdiction." Preliminary Objections to Mechanics'
Lien Claim, 1/28/2016, at ¶ 3. According to Murphy,
because Wife was a party to the underlying contract, but not
an owner of the property, Schell cannot file a mechanics'
lien claim against the property because Wife cannot be
order of court dated April 8, 2016, and entered on the docket
on April 11, 2016, the trial court concluded that Wife
"is an indispensable party under Pa.R.C.P. 1032, and
inasmuch as [Schell] is, by law, unable to join [Wife] in a
mechanics' lien claim, [Murphy's] preliminary
objections are granted." Order, 4/11/2016, at ¶ 1.
Thus, the trial court dismissed the complaint. Schell timely
filed a notice of appeal. Both Schell and the trial court
complied with Pa.R.A.P. 1925.
presents one question for our review. "Did the [trial]
court commit an error of law in sustaining [Murphy's]
preliminary objections to [Schell's mechanics'] lien
claim, filed against [Murphy] as the sole record title owner,
on the grounds that a non-owner spouse, listed as a party in
the home improvement contract, was an indispensable party to
the [mechanics'] lien?" Schell's Brief at 4
(unnecessary capitalization omitted).
standard of review of an order of the trial court overruling
or granting preliminary objections is to determine whether
the trial court committed an error of law. When considering
the appropriateness of a ruling on preliminary objections,
the appellate court must apply the same standard as the trial
court." Richmond v. McHale, 35 A.3d 779, 783
(Pa. Super. 2012).
provide the following background on the nature of
Mechanics' liens were unknown at common law and are
entirely a creature of statute. Such liens are designed to
protect persons who, before being paid (or fully paid),
provide labor or material to improve a piece of property.
See generally Matternas v. Stehman,  642 A.2d
1120, 1124 ([Pa. Super.] 1994) ("The Mechanics' Lien
Law of 1963 was intended to protect the prepayment [of] labor
and materials that a contractor invests in another's
property[.]"). Mechanics' liens accomplish this goal
by giving lienholders security for their payment independent
of contractual remedies.
Bricklayers of W. Pennsylvania Combined Funds, Inc. v.
Scott's Dev. Co., 90 A.3d 682, 690 (Pa.
2014) (some citations omitted; emphasis added). In addition,
"[t]he right to a mechanic[s'] lien is purely a
creature of statute and it is only available if the
conditions of the legislature are strictly followed. Where
the words of the statute are clear, the courts should not be
requested to go beyond the requirements of the act."
Brann & Stuart Co. v. Consol. Sun Ray,
Inc., 253 A.2d 105, 106 (Pa. 1969).
statute governing mechanics' liens provides that the lien