After a mechanic’s lien is filed, an owner has two options. The owner can wait because, if the lien is not foreclosed within a year, it evaporates by operation of law; or, the owner can file an application with the court seeking an order discharging the lien. If the owner files an application for discharge, the court will hold a hearing during which the contractor “shall first be required to establish that there is probable cause to sustain the validity of his lien,” and, if that occurs, the owner must “prove by clear and convincing evidence that the validity of the lien should not be sustained or the amount of the lien claimed is excessive and should be reduced.” Conn. Gen. Stat. §49-35b. Thus, if a lien is discharged, either there was not “probable cause” to sustain the lien or the owner was able to present “clear and convincing evidence” that the lien should be discharged. In either case, it is evidence that the contractor’s claim for the underlying debt was weak.
The question then is whether a contractor may commence its own action against the owner to the collects the amounts that had been secured by a mechanic’s lien that had been discharged after a hearing.