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Thread: Unlawful Mechanic's Lien on Motorcycle?

  1. #1
    Waldini is offline Junior Member
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    Unlawful Mechanic's Lien on Motorcycle?

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? CALIFORNIA

    I had my motorcycle (broken down) in a mechanic's shop. Talking with the technicians about once per week as the diagnosis for a blown motor unfolded, I was never told of any storage fees or potential abandoned property lean sales. I had a conversation with one of the managers when it was realized that the problem with the motor cycle would be very expensive which ended in me saying "I'm going to ask around my buddies to see if anyone wants to buy it as is and think over what to do." He said "sure no problem." After a couple weeks had passed, I had a voicemail from the shop (which I still have) saying in a casual tone that they had a few questions and to give them a call back. I call back, ask for the manager as instructed, and he isn't available, the conversation ends with "we will have him call you back." I never here back, until a week or so passes when I get a notice of an impending lean sale taking place on my bike in the mail. This is the first time I have heard about such thing, no waring letters, no voicemails warning of building storage fees NOTHING. Just this letter out of the blue. I call the shop to ask about this and according to them it is too late, the bike is already out of their hands and I am more or less at a sunk cost of my bike. I feel like this is wrong, surely under California law they are required to do more to get ahold of me than a casual voicemail and suddenly boom a letter in the mail telling me a lien sale is said and done.. I am hoping to sue for a couple grand or at least threaten lawsuit to obtain some sort of compensation if they did not in fact follow procedure. Any insight on where I can go with this would be greatly appreciated.
  2. #2
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    Why do you think your motorcycle with a blown engine is worth a couple of thousand dollars?
  3. #3
    sandyclaus is offline Senior Member
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    I'll just bet that a notice is prominently posted in the shop about the potential for storage fees and mechanic's liens on unpaid bills.

    And just how long has the bike been at the shop?
    Zigner likes this.
  4. #4
    latigo is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waldini View Post
    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? CALIFORNIA

    I had my motorcycle (broken down) in a mechanic's shop. Talking with the technicians about once per week as the diagnosis for a blown motor unfolded, I was never told of any storage fees or potential abandoned property lean sales. I had a conversation with one of the managers when it was realized that the problem with the motor cycle would be very expensive which ended in me saying "I'm going to ask around my buddies to see if anyone wants to buy it as is and think over what to do." He said "sure no problem." After a couple weeks had passed, I had a voicemail from the shop (which I still have) saying in a casual tone that they had a few questions and to give them a call back. I call back, ask for the manager as instructed, and he isn't available, the conversation ends with "we will have him call you back."


    I never here back, until a week or so passes when I get a notice of an impending lean sale taking place on my bike in the mail. This is the first time I have heard about such thing, no waring letters, no voicemails warning of building storage fees NOTHING. Just this letter out of the blue. I call the shop to ask about this and according to them it is too late, the bike is already out of their hands and I am more or less at a sunk cost of my bike. I feel like this is wrong, surely under California law they are required to do more to get ahold of me than a casual voicemail and suddenly boom a letter in the mail telling me a lien sale is said and done.. I am hoping to sue for a couple grand or at least threaten lawsuit to obtain some sort of compensation if they did not in fact follow procedure. Any insight on where I can go with this would be greatly appreciated.

    This is a complicated issue, as it seems that the shop has elected to conduct a (possessory) lien sale of the bike. But given given the informal notification that you describe it seems most doubtful that the lien holder has complied with the statutory requirements that must be met as a condition to foreclosing such a lien. Those conditions are set forth in Sections 3067-3074 of the California Civil Code and are very complex and demanding. Plus they must be followed to the letter.

    My suggestion is that you promptly communicate with the department of motor vehicles to determine whether the lien claimant has complied with Section 3072 of the Code, which among other things requires the lien claimant to send by certified mail (RRR):

    “A completed Notice of Pending Lien Sale form, a blank Declaration of Opposition form, and a return envelope preaddressed to the department, to the registered owner and legal owner at their addresses of record with the department, and to any other person known to have an interest in the vehicle.”

    In addition the Notice of Pending Lien Sale - to be signed under penalty of perjury - must contain the following:

    (1) A description of the vehicle, including make, year model, identification number, license number, and state of registration. For motorcycles, the engine number shall also be included. (2) The specific date, exact time, and place of sale, which shall be set not less than 31 days, but not more than 41 days, from the date of mailing. (3) The names and addresses of the registered and legal owners of the vehicle and any other person known to have an interest in the vehicle. (4) All of the following statements: (A) The amount of the lien and the facts concerning the claim which gives rise to the lien. (B) The person has a right to a hearing in court. (C) If a court hearing is desired, a Declaration of Opposition form, signed under penalty of perjury, shall be signed and returned to the department within 10 days of the date the Notice of Pending Lien Sale form was mailed. (D) If the Declaration of Opposition form is signed and returned, the lienholder shall be allowed to sell the vehicle only if he or she obtains a court judgment or if he or she obtains a subsequent release from the declarant or if the declarant cannot be served as described in subdivision (e). (E) If a court action is filed, the declarant shall be notified of the lawsuit at the address shown on the Declaration of Opposition form and may appear to contest the claim. (F) The person may be liable for court costs if a judgment is entered in favor of the lienholder.
    ______________________

    Due to the informality of the notification you received it doesn’t appear that the claimant provided you with the blank Declaration of Opposition to the sale. Had it done so, you would have had 10 days to sign and return the Declaration to DMV. Which would prevent the sale short of the claimant obtaining a court order.

    Sorry that this is so lengthy and perhaps confusing to you. But once you notify DMV of the absence of any formal Notice of the Pending Lien Sale and the fact that you were not provided the blank form in which you could timely protest the foreclosure they just might step in on your behalf. The are not known to take kindly to people that ignore their regulations.

    Good luck
  5. #5
    xylene is offline Senior Member
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    A couple of weeks here, a couple of weeks there...

    It seems like this is saving you from a big headache.
  6. #6
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by latigo View Post
    ...once you notify DMV of the absence of any formal Notice of the Pending Lien Sale...



    Wouldn't the following be the notice you are talking about?

    Quote Originally Posted by Waldini View Post
    ...I get a notice of an impending lean sale taking place on my bike in the mail...
  7. #7
    OHRoadwarrior is offline Senior Member
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    The end game here is likely to be the same, regardless of notification requirements, the shop is legally permitted to charge for storage and diagnostics. The only thing you may be able to prevail on, is the remote possibility the bike sold for an amount greater than their claim against it.

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