As previously discussed in this blog, after a property owner files an application to discharge a mechanic’s lien, a hearing is held in which the contractor is required to demonstrate that there is “probable cause to sustain the validity of the lien.” Sheriff v. Harris, 2014 WL 566150, *5 (Jan. 13, 2014). “The legal idea of probable cause is a bona fide belief in the existence of facts essential under the law for the action and such as would warrant a man of ordinary caution, prudence and judgment, under the circumstances, in entertaining it.” Id. The requirement of “probable cause” is a lower burden of proof than would be required at a full trial on the merits; however, the Sheriff decision evidences that a low burden of proof is not the same as requiring no proof at all. Nonetheless, the decision of illustrative of the evidence that must be presented to establish “probable cause” to sustain a lien.
The court in Sheriff noted that, “[t]o establish probable cause to support a mechanic’s lien, a person must first show that he is entitled to claim a lien.” Id. According to Conn.