Questionable Lien Filing: It's Not Adding Up

Monday, July 20th 2009, 4:20 pm
By: News 9

I have to say I was very surprised to hear that the "blank space" on a lien form.. the space where you're supposed to write how much money is due to you.. is up for interpretation.  Our legal analyst says that it is ok to put the TOTAL amount for the job opposed to what's still owed.  After the blank space it says "due to me."  I would take that as in the amount that's still due, not the total amount.  I even asked a clerk at the court clerk's office and she said that you're supposed to put the current amount due... but beware:  it sounds like it's a gray area. 

But let's put that aside.  Let's give the painter, Jeramy Gregston, the benefit of the doubt that he interpreted the blank space as a place to put the total amount due.  He put down $20,809.  The builder has receipts showing he paid him $16,007.  That would mean that the painter feels he's owed $4,802.  Let me just say that the builder - David Bryan denies he owes him a cent more.  Bryan has an estimate that shows the job should have cost $15,500.  But here's what gets me:  After we questioned the painter on the amount he put on the lien - $20,809 - he changed it.  He put down the amount he says he's owed:  $7,869.  Is it just me, or is this not adding up??? 

I had previously questioned Gregston about the estimate he gave the homebuilder.  Remember it was for $15,500.  He said that was only an ESTIMATE and the cost can change.  But change by nearly 8 thousand dollars?!  The homebuilder says there were no change orders, no add-ons, no reason the estimate should have grown.  And he says Gregston never finished.  He had to pay another painter about 1 thousand dollars to finish the work.

After writing the story, I heard from someone else who had a run in with Gregston painting.   
Linda Lavender is a homebuilder from Texas and was in the process of moving to Oklahoma and was building her own house.  She had heard that Jeramy Gregston did fantastic work, so she gave him a call to get a bid on painting her house.  I've had bids done before and the way it works is I gather up a couple and when I'm ready to make a decision, I call the one I'm going to go with.  Linda says that's exactly what she was going to do.  In fact, when she saw Gregston's bid she knew it was too high. 

A couple of days later, she got a call from one of her carpenters who mentioned that the painters had been there doing work for 2 days.  She was shocked.  Painters - what painters?  She says she had yet to hire anyone.  She rushed over to the house and found Gregston's workers were there, taping and caulking, getting the place ready to be painted.  She told them to get out - they were not hired.

The next day she says they showed up again.  She immediately called Gregston and told him "I did not hire you".   She tells us he said that she had led him to believe he was hired.  Within the week she says Gregston went down and filed a lien of about 50 thousand dollars on the property.  Linda hired an attorney and construction on her house hit a stand still.  Gregston agreed that if she would just pay him 5 thousand dollars plus his attorney's costs, he would get the lien lifted.  She paid.  5 thousand dollars for 2 days worth of putting tape on the wall.  Her final words to me were "people like this need to be stopped."

Jeramy Gregston released a statement through his attorney.  Click here to read his attorney's statement