WISCONSIN

LIEN LAWS BY STATE
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WISCONSIN STATUTES 1997
CHAPTER 779 LIENS

SUBCHAPTER I CONSTRUCTION LIENS

779.01 Construction Liens

779.02 Notice Required to Preserve Lien Rights; Exceptions; Saving Clause; Obligations of Contractors

779.03 Lien Valid Unless Waived by Claimant Personally, or Unless Payment Bond Furnished

779.035 Form of Contract; Payment Bond; Remedy

779.036 Contracts with Payment Bond; Lien; Notice; Duty of Owner and Lender

779.04 Claims Assignable; Notice; Prior Payment

779.05 Waivers of Lien

779.06 Filing Claim and Beginning Action; Notice Required Before Filing; Contents of Claim Document

779.07 Judgment and Lien Docket

779.08 Release of Lien; Undertaking

779.09 Foreclosure of Lien; Procedure; Parties

779.10 Judgment

779.11 Distribution of Proceeds of Sale

779.12 Sale; Notice and Report; Deficiency Judgment; Writ of Assistance

779.13 Satisfaction of Judgment or Lien; Correction of Errors

779.135 Construction Contracts, Form of Contract

779.14 Public Works, Form of Contract, Bond, Remedy

779.15 Public Improvements; Lien on Contractor; Duty of Officials

779.155 Judgment Creditors, Attachment of Funds Due to Public Contractors

779.16 Theft by Contractors

779.17 Release of Funds on Filing Bond

WISCONSIN STATUTES 1997

CHAPTER 779 LIENS

SUBCHAPTER I CONSTRUCTION LIENS

779.01 Construction Liens

(1) Name of law. This subchapter may be referred to as the construction lien law.

(2) Definitions. In this subchapter unless the context or subject matter requires otherwise:

(a) Improve or improvement includes any building, structure, erection, fixture, demolition, alteration, excavation, filling, grading, tiling, planting, clearing or landscaping which is built, erected, made or done on or to land for its permanent benefit. This enumeration is intended as an extension rather than a limitation of the normal meaning and scope of improve and improvement.

(b) Lien claimant means any person who claims a lien under this section pursuant to a contract for improvement of land entered into by an owner of the land.

(c) Owner means the owner of any interest in land who, personally or through an agent, enters into a contract, express or implied, for the improvement of the land. Agency will be presumed, in the absence of clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, between employer and employee, between spouses, between joint tenants and among tenants in common, but there shall be a similar presumption against agency in all other
cases.

(d) Prime contractor means:

1. A person, other than a laborer, but including an architect, professional engineer, or surveyor employed by the owner, who enters into a contract with an owner of land who is not personally the prime contractor as defined in subd. 2 to improve the land, or who takes over from a prime contractor the uncompleted contract; or

2. An owner of land who acts personally as general contractor in improving such land.

(3) Extent and character of lien. Every person who performs any work or procures its performance or furnishes any labor or materials or plans or specifications for the improvement of land, and who complies with s. 779.02, shall have a lien therefore on all interests in the land belonging to its owners. The lien extends to all contiguous land of the owner, but if the improvement is located wholly on one or more platted lots belonging to the owner, the lien applies only to the lots on which the improvement is located.

(4) Priority of construction lien. The lien provided in sub.

(3) shall be prior to any lien which originates subsequent to the visible commencement in place of the work of improvement, except as otherwise provided by ss. 215.21(4)(a), 292.31(8)(i), 292.41(6)(d), 292.81 and 706.11(1). When new construction is the principal improvement involved, commencement is deemed to occur no earlier than the beginning of substantial excavation for the foundations, footings or base of the new construction, except where the new construction is to be added to a substantial existing structure, in which case the commencement is the time of the beginning of substantial excavation or the time of the beginning of substantial preparation of the existing structure to receive the added new construction, whichever is earlier. The lien also shall be prior to any unrecorded mortgage give prior to the commencement of the work of improvement, if the lien claimant has no actual notice of the mortgage before the commencement. Lien claimants who perform work or procure its performance or furnish any labor or materials or plans or specifications for an improvement prior to the visible commencement of the work of improvement shall have lien rights, but shall have only the priority accorded to other lien claimants.

(5) Assignment of lien, garnishment. Assignment of a claim or right to a lien or any part thereof by a prime contractor, or garnishment by the creditor of a prime contractor, subcontractor, materialman, laborer or mechanic, shall not operate to compel the owner, prime contractor, subcontractor or materialman to pay the assignee or creditor until the lien claims of subcontractors, materialmen and laborers under this subchapter have either been paid in full, matured by notice and filing or expired. If such claims become liens, the owner, prime contractor, subcontractor or materialman shall be compelled to pay such assignee or creditor only what remains due in excess of such liens.

779.02 Notice Required to Preserve Lien Rights; Exceptions; Saving Clause; Obligations of Contractors

(1) Exceptions to notice requirement. The notice required to be given by lien claimants under sub. (2) shall not be required to be given in the following cases only:

(a) By any laborer or mechanic employed by any prime contractor or subcontractor.

(b) By any lien claimant who has contracted directly with the owner for the work or materials furnished, unless the claimant is a prime contractor subject to the notice requirement of sub. (2)(a).

(c) By any lien claimant furnishing labor or materials for an improvement in any case where more than 4 family living units are to be provided or added by such work of improvement, if the improvement is wholly residential in character, or in any case where more than 10,000 total usable square feet of floor space is to be provided or added by such work of improvement, if the improvement is partly or wholly nonresidential in character.

(d) By any prime contractor who is personally an owner of the land to be improved, by any corporate prime contractor of which an owner of the land is an officer or controlling shareholder, by any prime contractor who is an officer or controlling shareholder of a corporation which is an owner of the land or by any corporate prime contractor managed or controlled by substantially the same persons who manage or control a corporation which is an owner of the land.

(e) By any lien claimant, other than a prime contractor, who furnishes labor or materials for an improvement on a project on which the prime contractor is not required to give notice under this section.

(2) Notice to owner, lender and materialman. (a) Every prime contractor who enters into a contract with the owner for a work of improvement on the owner’s land and who has contracted or will contract with any subcontractors or materialmen to provide labor or materials for the work of improvement shall include in any written contract with the owner the notice required by this paragraph, and shall provide the owner with a copy of the written contract. If no written contract for the work of improvement is entered into, the notice shall be prepared separately and served personally or by registered mail on the owner or authorized agent within 10 days after the first labor or materials are furnished for the improvement by or pursuant to the authority of the prime contractor. The notice, whether included in a written contract or separately given, shall be in at least 8-point bold type, if printed, or in capital letters, if typewritten. It shall be in substantially the following language:

As required by the Wisconsin construction lien law, builder hereby notifies owner that persons or companies furnishing labor or materials for the construction on owner’s land may have lien rights on owner’s land and buildings if not paid. Those entitled to lien rights, in addition to the undersigned builder, are those who contract directly with the owner or those who give the owner notice within 60 days after they first furnish labor or materials for the construction. Accordingly, owner probably will receive notices from those who furnish labor or materials for the construction, and should give a copy of each notice received to the mortgage lender, if any. Builder agrees to cooperate with the owner and the owner’s lender, if any, to see that all potential lien claimants are duly paid.

(b) Every person other than a prime contractor who furnishes labor or materials for an improvement shall have the lien and remedy under this subchapter only if within 60 days after furnishing the first labor or materials the person gives notice in writing, in 2 signed copies, to the owner either by personal service on the owner or authorized agent or by registered mail with return receipt requested to the owner or authorized agent at the last-known post-office address. The owner or agent shall provide a copy of the notice received, within 10 days after receipt, to any mortgage lender who is furnishing or is to furnish funds for construction of the improvement to which the notice relates. The notice to the owner shall be in substantially the following language, with blanks accurately filled in:

As a part of your construction contract, your prime contractor or claimant has already advised you that those who perform, furnish, or procure labor, services, materials, plans, or specifications for the work will be notifying you. The undersigned first performed, furnished, or procured labor, services, materials, plans, or specifications on …. (give date) for the improvement now under construction on your real estate at …. (give legal description, street address or other clear description). Please give your mortgage lender the extra copy of this notice within 10 days after you receive this, so your lender, too, will know that the undersigned is included in the job.

(c) If any prime contractor required to give the notice prescribed in par. (a) fails to give notice as required, such contractor does not have the lien and remedy provided by this subchapter unless the contractor pays all of the contractor’s obligations to subcontractors and materialmen in respect to the work of improvement within the time periods under s. 779.06 and until the time for notice under par. (b) has elapsed and no lien
claimant under par. (b) gives notice.

(d) Every mortgage lender making an improvement or construction loan shall make reasonable inquiry of the owner as to whether any notices required by this subsection have been given. A lender is not required to pay out any loan proceeds unless or until the prime contractor has given any notice required of such contractor by this subsection.

(e) If the owner or lender complains of any insufficiency of any notice, the burden of proof is upon the owner or lender to show that he or she has been misled or deceived by the insufficiency. If there is more than one owner, giving the notice required to any one owner or authorized agent is sufficient. In addition, every prime contractor and subcontractor, at the time of purchasing or contracting for any materials to be used in any of the cases enumerated in s. 779.01. shallupon request deliver to the materialman a description of the real estate upon which the materials are to be used and the name and post-office address of the owner and authorized agent, if any. Failure to receive such description and name and address does not relieve a materialman who asserts a lien from the requirement of giving timely notice.

(3) Failure to give notice; saving clause. Any lien claimant, other than the prime contractor, who fails to give a notice as required by sub. (2)(b) shall have no lien on the land or improvement to which the failure relates. Any claimant who serves a late but otherwise proper notice personally or by registered mail on the owner or authorized agent shall have the lien provided by s. 779.01 for any labor or materials furnished after the late notice is actually received by the owner. The burden of proving that labor or materials for which a lien is claimed were furnished after that date is on the lien claimant.

(4) Notice and filing requirements in s. 779.06 unaffected. Nothing in this section shall be construed to relieve any lien claimant of the notice and filing requirements under s. 779.06.

(5) Theft by contractors. The proceeds of any mortgage on land paid to any prime contractor or subcontractor for improvements upon the mortgaged premises, and all moneys paid to any prime contractor or subcontractor by any owner for improvements, constitute a trust fund only in the hands of the prime contractor and subcontractor to the amount of all claims due or to become due or owing from the prime contractor or subcontractor for
labor and materials used for the improvements, until all the claims have been paid, and shall not be a trust fund in the hands of any other person. The use of any such moneys by any prime contractor or subcontractor for any other purpose until all claims, except those which are the subject of a bona fide dispute and then only to the extent of the amount actually in dispute, have been paid in full or proportionally in cases of a deficiency, is theft by the prime contractor or subcontractor of moneys so misappropriated and is punishable under s. 943.20. If the prime contractor or subcontractor is a corporation, such misappropriation also shall be deemed theft by any officers, directors or agents of the corporation responsible for the misappropriation. Any of such misappropriated moneys which have been received as salary, dividend, loan repayment, capital distribution or otherwise by any shareholder of the corporation not responsible for the misappropriation shall be a civil liability of the shareholder and may be recovered and restored to the trust fund specified in this subsection by action brought by any interested party for that purpose. Except as provided in this subsection, this section does not create a civil cause of action against any other person. Until all claims are paid in full, have matured by notice and filing or have expired, such proceeds and moneys shall not be subject to garnishment, execution, levy or attachment.

(6) Prime contractors to defend lien actions. Where a lien is filed under this subchapter by any person other than the prime contractor, the prime contractor shall defend any action thereon at personal expense, and during the pendency of the action the owner may withhold from the prime contractor the amount for which the lien was filed and sufficient to defray the costs of the action. In case of judgment against the owner, the owner may deduct from any amount due to the prime contractor the amount of the judgment and if the judgment exceeds the amount due, the owner may recover the difference from the prime contractor. This subsection does not apply if the lien is the result of the failure of the owner to pay the prime contractor.

(7) Wrongful use of materials. Any prime contractor or any subcontractor furnishing materials who purchases materials on credit and represents at the time of making the purchase that the materials are to be used in a designated building or other improvement and thereafter uses or causes them to be used in the construction of any improvement other than that designated, without the written consent of the seller, may be fined not more than $300 or imprisoned not more than 3 months.

(8) Wage payments to laborer apply to earlier work. In any situation where a laborer or mechanic employed by any prime contractor or subcontractor has wage payments due and has worked on more than one improvement for the employer during the period for which the wages are due, and a payment of less than all wages due is made, the payment is deemed to apply to the unpaid work in chronological sequence starting with the earliest unpaid time, unless the laborer agrees in writing that the payment shall be applied in a different way.

779.03 Lien Valid Unless Waived by Claimant Personally, or Unless Payment Bond Furnished

(1) No agreement by other than claimant may invalidate lien. Subject to s. 779.05, a lien claimant may waive the lien given by s. 779.01 by a writing signed by the lien claimant, but no action by nor agreement between any other persons shall invalidate the lien, other than payment in full to the claimant for the labor or materials to which the lien claim relates.

(2) Payment bond may eliminate lien rights. In any case where the prime contractor, pursuant to agreement with the owner, has furnished a payment bond under s. 779.035, all liens provided by s. 779.01 except those of any prime contractor do not exist, ss. 779.02(1) to (4) and (6) and 779.06 do not apply and all claimants who have no lien shall follow the requirements and procedures specified in ss. 779.035 and 779.036.

779.035 Form of Contract; Payment Bond; Remedy

(1) To eliminate lien rights as provided in s. 779.03(2), the contract between the owner and the prime contractor for the construction of the improvement shall contain a provision for the payment by the prime contractor of all claims for labor performed and materials or plans or specifications furnished, used or consumed, except plans or specifications furnished by the architect, professional engineer or surveyor employed by the owner, in making such improvement and performing the work of improvement. The contract shall not be effective to eliminate lien rights unless the prime contractor gives a bond issued by a surety company licensed to do business in this state. The bond shall carry a penalty for unpaid claims of not less than the contract price, and shall be conditioned for the payment to every person entitled thereto of all the claims for labor performed, and materials furnished under the contract and subsequent amendments thereto, to be used or consumed in making the improvement or performing the work of improvement as provided in the contract and subsequent amendments thereto. The bond shall be approved by the owner and by any mortgage lender furnishing funds for the construction of the improvement. No assignment, modification or change in the contract, or change in the work covered thereby, or any extension of time for completion of the contract shall release the sureties on the bond.

(2) (a) Except as provided in par. (b), any party in interest may, not later than one year after the completion of the contract for the construction of the improvement, maintain an action in his or her own name against the prime contractor and the sureties upon the bond for the recovery of any damages sustained by reason of the failure of the prime contractor to comply with the contract or with the contract between the prime contractor and subcontractors. If the amount realized on the bond is insufficient to satisfy all of the claims of the parties in
full, it shall be distributed among the parties proportionally.

(b) 1. Except as provided in subd. 2., a subcontractor or supplier may maintain an action under par. (a) only if the subcontractor or supplier has notified the prime contractor in writing that the subcontractor or supplier was providing labor or materials for the construction of the improvement. The notice must be provided no later than 60 days after the date on which the subcontractor or supplier first provided the labor or materials.

2. A notice under subd. 1. is not required if any of the following applies:

a. The contract for the provision of labor or materials does not exceed $5,000.

b. The action is brought by an employee of the prime contractor, the subcontractor or the supplier.

c. The subcontractor or supplier is listed in a written contract, or in a document appended to a written contract, between a subcontractor or supplier and the prime contractor.

(3) In any case in which the improvement contract and bond have been prepared and executed pursuant to sub. (1) upon inquiry by any subcontractor, materialman, laborer or mechanic furnishing labor or materials for said improvement, the prime contractor and the owner shall so advise the person making the inquiry and shall give the person reasonable opportunity to inspect and examine the contract and bond.

779.036 Contracts with Payment Bond; Lien; Notice; Duty of Owner and Lender

(1) In any case in which an improvement is constructed or to be constructed pursuant to a contract and payment bond under s. 779.035, any person furnishing labor or materials or plans or specifications to be used or consumed in making the improvement, to any prime contractor or subcontractor shall have a lien on the money or other payment due or to become due the prime contractor or subcontractor therefore, if the lienor, before payment is made to the prime contractor or subcontractor, gives written notice of the lienor’s claim by registered mail with return receipt requested to the owner or authorized agent and to any mortgage lender furnishing funds for the construction of the improvement. Upon receipt of the notice, the owner and lender shall assure that a sufficient amount is withheld to pay the claim and, when it is admitted by the prime contractor or subcontractor involved or established under sub. (3), shall pay the claim and charge it to the prime contractor or subcontractor as appropriate. Any owner or lender violating this duty shall be liable to the claimant for the damages resulting from the violation. There shall be no preference among lienors serving such notices.

(2) A copy of the notice provided in sub. (1) also shall beserved by the lienor, within 7 days after service of the notice upon the owner and lender, upon the prime contractor or subcontractor by registered mail with return receipt requested.

(3) If the prime contractor or subcontractor does not dispute the claim within 30 days after service of written notice under sub. (2), by registered mail with return receipt requested to the owner and lender, the amount claimed shall be paid over to the claimant on demand and charged to the prime contractor or subcontractor pursuant to sub. (1). If the prime contractor or subcontractor disputes the claim, the right to a lien and to the moneys in question shall be determined in an action brought by the claimant or the prime contractor or subcontractor. If the action is not brought within 3 months from the time the notice required by sub. (1) is served, the lien rights under this section are barred.

(4) (a) When the total lien claims exceed the sum due the prime contractor or subcontractor concerned and where the prime contractor or subcontractor has not disputed the amounts of the claims filed, the owner with the concurrence of the lender shall determine on a proportional basis who is entitled to the amount being withheld and shall notify all claimants and the prime contractor or subcontractor in writing of the determination. Unless an action is commenced by a claimant or by the prime contractor or subcontractor within 20 days after the mailing of said notice, the money shall be paid out in accordance with the determination and the liability of the owner and lender to any claimant shall cease.

(b) If an action is commenced, all claimants, the owner and the lender shall be made parties. Such action shall be brought within 6 months after completion of the work of improvement or within the time limit prescribed by par. (a), whichever is earlier.

(c) Within 10 days after the filing of a certified copy of the judgment in any such action with the owner and lender, the money due the prime contractor or subcontractor shall be paid to the clerk of the court to be distributed in accordance with the judgment.

779.04 Claims Assignable; Notice; Prior Payment

All claims for liens and right to recover therefore under this subchapter are assignable. Notice in writing of such assignment may be served upon the owner of the property affected and all payments made by the owner before service of such notice shall discharge the debt to the amount paid. The assignee may file petitions for such liens and may bring an action in the assignee’s name to enforce the same, subject to the limitations in s. 779.01(5).

779.05 Waivers of Lien

(1) Any document signed by a lien claimant or potential claimant and purporting to be a waiver of construction lien rights under this subchapter, is valid and binding as a waiver whether or not consideration was paid therefore and whether the document was signed before or after the labor or material was furnished or contracted for. Any ambiguity in such document shall be construed against the person signing it. Any waiver document shall be deemed to waive all lien rights of the signer for all labor and materials furnished or to be furnished by the claimant at any time for the improvement to which the waiver relates, except to the extent that the document specifically and expressly limits the waiver to apply to a particular portion of such labor and materials. A lien claimant or potential lien claimant of whom a waiver is requested is entitled to refuse to furnish a waiver unless paid in full for the work or material to which the waiver relates. A waiver furnished is a waiver of lien rights only, and not of any contract rights of the claimant otherwise existing.

(2) A promissory note or other evidence of debt given for any lienable claim shall not be deemed a waiver of lien rights unless the note or other instrument is received as payment and expressly declares that receipt thereof is a waiver of lien rights.

779.06 Filing Claim and Beginning Action; Notice Required Before Filing; Contents of Claim Document

(1) No lien under s. 779.01 shall exist and no action to enforce a lien under s. 779.01 shall be maintained unless within 6 months from the date the lien claimant furnished the last labor or materials a claim for the lien is filed in the office of the clerk of circuit court of the county in which the lands affected by the lien lie, and unless within 2 years from the date of filing a claim for lien an action is brought and summons and complaint filed. A claim for a lien may be filed and entered in the judgment and lien docket, and action brought, notwithstanding the death of the owner of the property affected by the action or of the person with whom the original contract was made, with like effect as if he or she were then living.

(2) No lien claim may be filed or action brought thereon unless, at least 30 days before timely filing of the lien claim, the lien claimant serves on the owner, personally or by registered mail with return receipt requested, a written notice of intent to file a lien claim. The notice is required to be given whether or not the claimant has been required to and has given a previous notice pursuant to s. 779.02. Such notice shall briefly describe the nature of the claim, its amount and the land and improvement to which it relates.

(3) Such a claim for lien shall have attached thereto a copy of any notice given in compliance with s. 779.02 and a copy of the notice given in compliance with sub. (2), and shall contain a statement of the contract or demand upon which it is founded, the name of the person against whom the demand is claimed, the name of the claimant and any assignee, the last date of the performance of any labor or the furnishing of any materials, a legal description of the property against which the lien is claimed, a statement of the amount claimed and all other material facts in relation thereto. Such claim document shall be signed by the claimant or attorney, need not be verified, and in case of action brought, may be amended, as pleadings are.

779.07 Judgment and Lien Docket

(1) Every clerk of circuit court shall keep a judgment and lien docket in which shall be entered, immediately upon filing, the proper entries under the appropriate headings specified in this subsection, relative to each claim for lien filed, opposite the names of the persons against whom the lien is claimed. The names shall be entered alphabetically. Each page in the judgment and lien docket shall be divided into 9 columns, with headings in the following sequence to the respective columns, as follows:

(a) Name of person against whom lien is claimed.

(b) Name of claimant or assignee.

(c) Attorney for claimant.

(d) Last date of performance of labor or furnishing materials.

(e) Description of copies of notices attached to claim when filed.

(f) Date and time of filing claim.

(g) Description of property.

(h) Amount claimed.

(i) Satisfaction.

(2) The judgment and lien docket shall be presumptive evidence of the correctness of its entries.

779.08 Release of Lien; Undertaking

(1) The person against whom a lien is claimed or any other interested party may file with the clerk of the court in whose office the claim for lien is filed an undertaking executed by 2 or more sufficient sureties to the effect that the person against whom the lien is claimed shall pay the amount of the claim and all costs and damages which may be awarded against that person on account of the lien or in lieu thereof deposit with the clerk of the court a sum of money, certified check or negotiable government bonds in par value equal to 125% of the claim for lien. The court in which any action to foreclose the lien may be brought shall determine any question of sufficiency of the sureties if exception is taken thereto by the lien claimant within 10 days after notice of the filing of such undertaking or deposit of other security and may upon notice and upon motion of any party, order any sum of money deposited to be invested. The depositor shall be entitled to any income from the investments, certified check or negotiable U.S. government bonds deposited and the clerk shall pay the income to the depositor without order when received or, in the case of coupons, as the income becomes due.

(2) If an undertaking is furnished, it shall be accompanied by the affidavits of the sureties in which each states that the surety is worth, over and above all debts the liabilities in property within this state not exempt from execution, an amount in the aggregate equal to 125% or more of the amount of the claim for lien.

(3) The person against whom the lien is claimed or other interested party depositing the security shall cause to be served upon the lien claimant a notice of the filing of the undertaking or deposit of other security and, if an undertaking, a copy thereof, which notice shall state where and when the undertaking was filed or the security was deposited.

(4) Any action brought after the furnishing of security or pending at the time of the furnishing thereof in accordance with this section shall proceed as if no security had been furnished, except that after the time within which exceptions may be taken to the security, or pursuant to order of the court upon any exception so taken, the clerk shall satisfy the claim for lien of record and discharge any lis pendens filed, and except that the lien thereupon shall attach to the security and the amount adjudged due in the proceeding for foreclosure thereof shall be satisfied out of the security, and the property described in the lien claim shall thenceforth be entirely free of the lien and shall in no way be involved in subsequent proceedings.

(5) If no action to foreclose the lien is brought within the time specified by s. 779.06(1), the clerk of the circuit court in whose office the undertaking or other security was filed or deposited shall on request, and without notice, return the undertaking or security to the party filing or depositing it.

779.09 Foreclosure of Lien; Procedure; Parties

In the foreclosure of liens mentioned in s. 779.01, ch. 846 shall control as far as applicable unless otherwise provided in this subchapter. All persons having filed claims for liens under s. 779.01 may join as plaintiffs, and if any do not join they may be made defendants. All persons having liens subsequent to such lien may be joined as defendants. If any person who is a proper party is not a party to the action the person may, at any time before judgment, be made a defendant, and any person who after the commencement of the action obtains a lien or becomes a purchaser may, at any time before judgment, be made a defendant.

779.10 Judgment

The judgment shall adjudge the amount due to each claimant who is a party to the action. It shall direct that the interest of the owner in the premises at the commencement of the work or furnishing the materials for which liens are given and which the owner has since acquired, or so much thereof as is necessary, be sold to satisfy the judgment, and that the proceeds be brought into court with the report of sale to abide the order of the court. If the premises can be sold in parcels without injury to the parties, the court may adjudge that the sale be so made. If the plaintiff fails to establish a lien upon the premises but does establish a right to recover for labor or materials, the plaintiff may have a judgment against the party liable.

779.11 Distribution of Proceeds of Sale

The several claimants whose liens were established in the action shall be paid without priority among themselves. If the sum realized at the sale under s. 779.10 is insufficient after paying the costs of the action and the costs of making the sale to pay the liens in full they shall be paid proportionally.

779.12 Sale; Notice and Report; Deficiency Judgment; Writ of Assistance

(1) All sales under judgments in accordance with s. 779.10 shall be noticed, conducted and reported in the manner provided for the sale of real estate upon execution and shall be absolute and without redemption. In case such sale is confirmed, the deed given thereon shall be effectual to pass to the purchaser all that interest in the premises which is directed to be sold.

(2) If any deficiency arises upon the sale in the payment of the sums adjudged to be due to any lien claimant, the court, upon confirming the sale, may render judgment for the deficiency if demanded in the pleadings against the defendant legally liable to pay the deficiency. The judgment may be entered in the judgment and lien docket and enforced in the same manner that ordinary judgments are. The purchasers at the sale shall be entitled to a writ of assistance under s. 815.63 to obtain possession of the premises sold.

779.13 Satisfaction of Judgment or Lien; Correction of Errors

(1) Every lien claimant, or the attorney who executed and filed a claim for lien on the claimant’s behalf, who has received satisfaction or tender of the claim with the costs of any action brought on the claim shall, at the request of any person interested in the premises affected and on payment of the costs of satisfying the same, execute and deliver the necessary satisfaction to the interested person. On filing the satisfaction with the clerk of circuit court, the clerk of circuit court shall enter satisfaction of the claim on the judgment and lien docket. Failure to execute and deliver the satisfaction or to satisfy the lien on the judgment and lien docket shall render the person so refusing liable to pay to the person requiring the satisfaction a sum equal to one-half of the sum claimed in the claim for lien.

(2) Every lien claimant, or the attorney who executed and filed a claim for lien on the claimant’s behalf, who has received from any person interested in the premises described in the claim a written statement that the premises described in the claim are not in fact the premises on which the claimant furnished the work or materials to which the claim relates together with a written demand that the claim be satisfied of record shall, if in fact the statement of such person about the mistaken description is true, promptly satisfy the lien claim of record at the lien claimant’s expense. Failure to satisfy the lien claim of record within a reasonable time, if in fact the statement asserting the mistaken description is true, shall render the person so failing liable to pay to the person demanding the satisfaction a sum equal to one-half
of the sum claimed in the claim for lien.

779.135 Construction Contracts, Form of Contract

The following provisions in contracts for the improvement of land in this state are void:

(1) Provisions requiring a contractor, subcontractor or material supplier to waive his or her right to a construction lien or to a claim against a payment bond before he or she has been paid for the labor or materials or both that he or she furnished.

(2) Provisions making the contract subject to the laws of another state or requiring that any litigation, arbitration or other dispute resolution process on the contract occur in another state.

(3) Provisions making a payment to a general contractor from any person who does not have a contractual agreement with the subcontractor or supplier a condition precedent to a general contractor’s payment to a subcontractor or a supplier. This subsection does not prohibit contract provisions that may delay a payment to a subcontractor until the contractor receives payment from any person who does not have a contractual
agreement with the subcontractor or supplier.

779.14 Public Works, Form of Contract, Bond, Remedy

(1) In this section, subcontractor or supplier means the following:

(a) Any person who has a direct contractual relationship, expressed or implied, with the prime contractor or with any subcontractor of the prime contractor to perform labor or furnish materials, except as provided in par. (b).

(b) With respect to contracts entered into under s. 84.06(2) for highway improvements, any person who has a direct contractual relationship, expressed or implied, with the prime contractor to perform labor or furnish materials.

(a) All contracts with the state involving $2,500 or more and all other contracts involving $500 or more for the performance of labor or furnishing materials when the same pertains to any public improvement or public work shall contain a provision for the payment by the prime contractor of all claims for labor performed and materials furnished, used or consumed in making the public improvement or performing the public work, including, without limitation because of enumeration, fuel, lumber, building materials, machinery, vehicles, tractors, equipment, fixtures, apparatus, tools, appliances, supplies, electric energy, gasoline, motor oil, lubricating oil, greases, state imposed taxes, premiums for worker’s compensation insurance and contributions for unemployment compensation.

(b) 1. A contract under par. (a) shall not be made unless the prime contractor gives a bond issued by a surety company licensed to do business in this state and unless the prime contractor agrees, to the extent practicable, to maintain a list of all subcontractors and suppliers performing labor or furnishing materials under the contract.

2. The bond shall carry a penalty of not less than the contract price, and shall be conditioned for all of the following:

a. The faithful performance of the contract.

b. The payment to every person, including every subcontractor or supplier, of all claims that are entitled to payment for labor performed and materials furnished for the purpose of making the public improvement or performing the public work as provided in the contract and this subsection.

3. The bond shall be approved for the state by the state official authorized to enter the contract, for a county by its corporation counsel, for a city by its mayor, for a village by its president, for a town by its chairperson, for a school district by its president and for any other public board or body by the presiding officer thereof.

4. No assignment, modification or change of the contract, change in the work thereby or extension of time for the completion of the contract may release the sureties on the bond.

5. Neither the invitation for bids nor the person having power to approve the prime contractor’s bond may require that the bond be furnished by a specified surety company or through a specified agent or broker.

(2) (a) Except as provided in par. (am), no later than one year after the completion of work under the contract, any party in interest, including any subcontractor or supplier, may maintain an action in that party’s name against the prime contractor and the sureties upon the bond for the
recovery of any damages sustained by reason of any of the following:

1. Failure of the prime contractor to comply with the contract.

2. Except as provided in subd. 3, failure of the prime contractor or a subcontractor of the prime contractor to comply with a contract, whether express or implied, with a subcontractor or supplier for the performance of labor or furnishing of materials for the purpose of making the public improvement or performing the public work that is the subject of the contract under sub. (1m).

3. With respect to contracts entered into under s. 84.06(2) for highway improvements, failure of the prime contractor to comply with a contract, whether express or implied, with a subcontractor or supplier of the prime contractor for the performance of labor or furnishing of materials for the purpose of making the highway improvement that is the subject of the contract under sub. (1m).

(am) 1. Except as provided in subd. 2., a subcontractor or supplier may maintain an action under par. (a) only if the subcontractor or supplier has notified the prime contractor in writing that the subcontractor or supplier has provided or will provide labor or materials to the public work or improvement. The notice must be provided no later than 60 days after the date on which the subcontractor or supplier first provided the labor or materials.

2. A notice under subd. 1. is not required if any of the following applies:

a. The contract for the provision of the labor or materials does not exceed $5,000.

b. The action is brought by an employee of the prime contractor, the subcontractor or the supplier.

c. The subcontractor or supplier is listed in the list required to be maintained under sub. (1m)(b)1. or in a written contract, or in a document appended to a written contract, between a subcontractor or supplier and the prime contractor.

(b) If the amount realized on the bond is insufficient to satisfy all claims of the parties in full, it shall be distributed among the parties proportionally.

(3) In an action by a county upon the bond all persons for whose protection it was given and who make claim thereunder may be joined in the action. The county highway commissioner may take assignments of all demands and claims for labor or material and enforce the same in the action for the benefit of the assignors, and the judgment may provide the manner in which the assignors shall be paid.

779.15 Public Improvements; Lien on Contractor; Duty of Officials

(1) Any person furnishing labor or materials to be used or consumed in making public improvements or performing public work, including fuel, lumber, machinery, vehicles, tractors, equipment, fixtures, apparatus, tools, appliances, supplies, electrical energy, gasoline, motor oil, lubricating oil, greases, state imposed taxes, premiums for worker’s compensation insurance and contributions for unemployment compensation, to any prime contractor, except in cities of the 1st class, shall have alien on the money or bonds or warrants due or to become due the prime contractor therefore, if the lienor, before payment is made to the prime contractor, gives written notice to the debtor state, county, town or municipality of the claim. The debtor shall withhold a sufficient amount to pay the claim and, when it is admitted by the prime contractor or established under sub. (3), shall pay the claim and charge it to the prime contractor. Any officer violating the duty hereby imposed shall be liable on his or her official bond to the claimant for the damages resulting from the violation. There shall be no preference between the lienors serving the notices.

(2) Service of the notice under sub. (1) shall be made by registered mail upon the clerk of the municipality or in the clerk’s absence upon the treasurer. If any of the money due the prime contractor is payable by the state, service of the notice under sub. (1) shall be served by registered mail upon the state department, board or commission having jurisdiction over the work. A copy of the notice shall be served concurrently by registered mail upon the prime contractor.

(3) If a valid lien exists under sub. (1) and the prime contractor does not dispute the claim within 30 days after service on the prime contractor of the notice provided in sub. (2), by written notice to the debtor state, county, town or municipality, the amount claimed shall be paid over to the claimant on demand and charged to the prime contractor pursuant to sub. (1). If the prime contractor disputes the claim, the right to a lien and to the moneys in question shall be determined in an action brought by the claimant or the prime contractor. If the action is not brought within 3 months from the time the notice required by sub. (1) is served, and notice of bringing the action filed with the officer with whom the claim is filed, the lien rights are barred.

(4) (a) When the total of the lien claims exceeds the sum due the prime contractor and where the prime contractor has not disputed the amounts of the claims filed, the debtor state, county, town or municipality, through the officer, board, department or commission with whom the claims are filed, shall determine who is entitled to the money and shall notify all claimants and the prime contractor in writing of the determination. Unless an action is commenced by a claimant or by the prime contractor within 20 days after the mailing of the notice, the money shall be paid out in accordance with the determination and the liability of the state, county, town or municipality to any lien claimant shall cease.

(b) If an action is commenced, all claimants shall be made parties and the action shall be commended within 3 months after acceptance of the work by the proper public authority except as otherwise herein provided.

(c) Within 10 days after the filing of a certified copy of judgment in any such action with the officers with whom the notice authorized by sub. (1) is filed, the money due the prime contractor shall be paid to the clerk of court to be distributed in accordance with the judgment.

779.155 Judgment Creditors, Attachment of Funds Due to Public Contractors

(1) Limitations. This section does not apply to cases covered by s. 812.42. Demands covered by s. 779.15 have priority over judgments filed under this section. The remedies afforded by s. 779.15 and by this section are complementary.

(2) Certified copies of judgments filed. In this section, municipality includes city, village, county, town, school district, technical college district and any quasi municipal corporation. When the state or any municipality is indebted to any contractor, the owner of a judgment against
the contractor may attach the debt by filing a certified copy of his or her judgment in the manner and subject to the conditions and limitations of this section. If the debt is owned by the state upon a contractor for public improvements, the certified copy shall be filed with the officer, board, department or commission having jurisdiction over the work. Otherwise, the copy shall be filed with the department of administration.
If the debt is owed by a municipality, the copy shall be filed with the municipal clerk or corresponding officer. The judgment creditor shall promptly notify the judgment debtor of the filing, within the time and as provided by s. 812.07 for service upon the defendant.

(3) Payment to judgment creditor; exception. Except as to contractors on public works, the proper officers of the state or municipality shall pay the judgment out of moneys due the contractor or which became due the contractor, but no payment shall be made until 30 days after the creditor has filed with such officers proof that the contractor had been notified of the filing of a copy of the judgment against the contractor.

(4) Same; funds due public contractors. When the state or a municipality is indebted to a contractor for public improvements, payment shall not be made to the judgment creditor until 3 months after final completion and acceptance of the public work and then only out of moneys due the contractor in excess of unpaid lienable claims having priority under s. 779.15.

(5) Adjustment of lien claims. (a) For the purpose of administering this section, sworn statements of the contractor setting forth the unpaid lien claims filed or fileable under s. 779.15 may be accepted by the proper officer, board, department or commission, unless the judgment creditor or other interested person gives written notice that an action is pending to determine whether specified lien claims were incurred in performing the public work and the amount thereof, or to determine the priorities in which event payments shall await the result of the action.

(b) Within 10 days after filing the certified copy of the judgment under sub. (2), the contractor shall file the sworn statement in duplicate, with the proper officer, board, department or commission, who shall immediately furnish the judgment creditor with one of the statement. The judgment creditor shall have 10 days from the receipt thereof in which to serve the notice of pendency of the court action.

(6) Payments to judgment creditor. After the expiration of the 3-month period, the moneys due the contractor in excess of unpaid lienable expenses and claims incurred in performing the public work shall be paid to the judgment creditor, but not exceeding the amount due on the judgment

(7) Priority of judgments over assignments. Any judgment filed under this section has priority over an assignment made by the contractor after the commencement of the action in which the judgment was obtained.

779.16 Theft by Contractors

All moneys, bonds or warrants paid or to become due to any prime contractor or subcontractor for public improvements are a trust fund only in the hands of the prime contractor or subcontractor and shall not be a trust fund in the hands of any other person. The use of the moneys by the prime contractor or subcontractor for any purpose other than the payment of claims on such public improvement, before the claims have been satisfied, constitutes theft by the prime contractor or subcontractor and is punishable under s. 943.20. This section shall not create a civil cause of action against any person other than the prime contractor or subcontractor to whom such moneys are paid or become due. Until all claims are paid in full, have matured by notice and filing or have expired, such money, bonds and warrants shall not be subject to garnishment, execution, levy or attachment.

779.17 Release of Funds on Filing Bond

At any time after the service of a notice of lien claim or filing of judgment or pending the determination of any action commenced thereunder, the contractor shall be entitled to the release of any moneys due the contractor under the contract upon filing a bond, executed by a surety company duly authorized to transact business in this state, with the public authority having jurisdiction over the work, guaranteeing that the contractor will pay any judgment of the court rendered in favor of the lien claimant and all judgments filed. Such bond shall be in an amount sufficient to insure payment of the lien claims and judgments, and shall be approved as to form and amount by the public authority.