Under Louisiana Law, particularly the Louisiana Private Works Act, La. R.S. 9:4801, et seq., there are certain statutory claims for payment available to various parties on construction projects. Whether you are a prime contractor or subcontractor, an employee, a material supplier, equipment lessor, or an independent contractor/worker, here are some points to keep in mind:
Under the Private Works Act, an owner is defined as anyone who is an “owner, co-owner, naked owner, owner of a predial servitude or personal servitude, possessor, lessee, or other person owning or having the right to the use or enjoyment of an immovable or having an interest therein” is deemed an owner under the Private Works Act. La. R.S. 9:4806(A). A contractor is defined as anyone who ““who contracts with an owner to perform all of a part of a work.” There is also a different definition for a General Contractor which can have significant ramifications on rights.
The Louisiana Private Works Act provides certain claimants, such as subcontractors, laborers, consultants, and lessors, a claim against the owner and a claim against the contractor on a project to secure payment for the price of the work and/or materials used. La. R.S. 9:4802(A); La. R.S. 9:4801. The security element behind this claim is a lien.
Claims against the owner are secured by a privilege on the movable property upon which the work was performed. Thus, in addition to the personal claim you may bring against the owner and/or contractor, you may also have the right to assert a lien or privilege against the immovable property to secure the claim against the owner and/or contractor. In Louisiana we call this document a “Statement of Claim and Privilege.”
The Private Works Act is generally applicable to work performed on immovable property. It is not, however, applicable to (1) the drilling of oil, gas, or water wells, as well as other activities related thereto; (2) the construction or other work on the permanent bed and structures of a railroad; or (3) public works performed by the state or any state board or agency or political subdivision of the state. There are other statutes which apply to these types of construction projects. Private Works Act applies to work performed on property owned by a private person or entity.
Claims and privileges brought pursuant to the Private Works Act may secure payment of principal amounts of the obligations owed, including expenses related to the cost of delivery of movables, interest, and the fees paid for the filing of a statement of claim or privilege. La. R.S. 9:4803(A)(1) & (2). Reimbursement of attorneys’ fees and cost of litigation is not specifically provided.
The Louisiana Private Works act was amended in 2010 and there were some interesting changes that are still playing out in the courts. To read more on those changes click here.