Michigan Mold Lien Act amendment stifled by Detroit automakers

A proposed amendment to the Michigan Mold Lien Act, which has been in place since the three Michigan chapters of the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) worked to implement it several years ago, has hit a wall.

The Michigan Mold Lien Act gave mold manufacturers in Michigan more clout, namely the right to file a lien on a mold even though the moldmaker no longer has possession. An older Mold Lien Law, which is also included in the proposed amendment, was primarily for molders and required possession.

The proposed amendment, introduced in February 2008, would remove the “permanent recording” requirement (which identified the mold company that built the mold) because these recordings were being removed by other parties so the mold company could not be identified. Instead, photographic recordings of the mold would suffice in the case of a lien being filed. The amendment also calls for a 45-day waiting period, from 90 days, before a lien can be enforced. The Mold Lien Act amendment would “grant the lienholder the right to possession of tooling and to enforce this right by “any available judicial procedure," and allow for the assessment of interest, damages, court costs or attorney fees “a tool or mold builder is forced to incur to enforce its lien.” It would “include language regarding waiver clauses and the application of the law of another state being void and unenforceable” because mold shops do business across state lines.

David Lefere, a Michigan attorney who represents numerous tool and die companies, spearheaded this effort on behalf of the mold, tool and die industry in Michigan, supported by trade groups including the AMBA. After much effort on the part of Lefere and even a rally at the capital in which mold, tool and die companies gathered to speak with legislators, the bills appear to be DOA.

Lefere reported in his company’s recent newsletter that he was asked to “participate in a conference call with three OEMs, specifically Ford, Chrysler and General Motors and representatives from both the House and Senate.” Lefere was told that the purpose of the conference call was to discuss the status and purpose of the amendment.

Lefere noted that the “OEMs did not want to discuss the actual need for the changes to the Lien Acts, but instead wanted to talk about finding a resolution so as to avoid the consequences of the Lien Acts. They further indicated that they do not believe there is an issue with regard to tooling companies getting paid under the current structure,” Lefere said. “My question to them was, ‘If there is no problem with the tooling companies getting paid, then why are the proposed amendments to the Lien Acts being challenged?’”

The automakers’ representatives had no answer for that. But Lefere said that what he came away with was that “the OEMs have informed their lobbyists that they are not to allow the bills to be called for a vote, let alone pass.”

Lefere said that he is committed to “forging ahead” with trying to get the amendment heard in committee, with the goal of seeing it put to a vote, “even if it turns out to be an unfavorable result,” he added. “At that point at least we would know how, why, and because of whom, [it] was defeated.” [email protected]

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