New Member
West Virginia
I can't afford an attorney, so I'm trying to fight a lien and lawsuit Per Se (representing myself). I paid in advance to have the drive train replaced and upgraded in my classic Land Rover Defender. The work was supposed to take 6-8 months. Now, 2 1/2 years later, I still don't have my truck. The shop has pushed my truck outside and demanding that I collect it, take it elsewhere to be finished, and pay a huge invoice. I argued that I paid in advance for a turn-key project, and they need to finish. They replied with a lien and a lawsuit. I'm struggling to reply to their complaint, since I'm not an attorney. But since the original invoiced work included testing and tuning (which wasn't done), that I should have some legal standing. I also found some odd language in West Virginia law regarding liens on vehicles that have been modified, but I don't know how to interpret it. At first I thought it meant that if the work on the vehicle modified it so that the performance has been altered from the stock configuration, then the lien is not valid. My truck was modified with a much higher horsepower drive train. I'm pasting the language below, and I'd appreciate if someone could let me know what the line about modifying from stock really means.

A person who, while in possession thereof, makes, alters, repairs, stores, transports or in any way enhances the value of an article of personal property, or boards, pastures, feeds, trains, improves or transports any animal shall have a lien upon such article or animal while lawfully in the possession thereof, for the charges agreed upon, or, if no charges be agreed upon, then for his just and reasonable charges for the work done or the board or storage or transportation furnished, to the extent and in the manner provided for in section fourteen of this article, and may retain possession thereof until such charges are paid. Such lien shall be good against the person who deposited the property with the lienor and against any other person by whose authority or with whose consent the property was deposited: Provided, That, notwithstanding the provisions of this section and section two of this article, if a person possessing an improver's lien on a motor vehicle releases that vehicle to a secured party taking possession after default, the secured party shall, upon redemption of the vehicle by the debtor or resale or other disposition by the secured party, pay to the improver the lesser of:

(i) The actual cost of improvements as measured by the cost of inventory and labor; or
(ii) fifteen hundred dollars: Provided, however, That improvements shall not include nonstock changes in the appearance or performance of the vehicle: Provided further, That if after satisfaction of any prior perfected lien, proceeds remain from the sale, redemption or other disposition of the vehicle by the secured party, such proceeds shall be used to satisfy any balance remaining on the improver's lien: And provided further, That nothing herein shall be construed as impairing or affecting the secured party's right to recover under any insurance policy covering the vehicle. If two or more articles of personal property are made, altered, repaired, stored, transported or enhanced in value as aforesaid, or two or more animals are boarded, pastured, fed, trained, improved or transported as aforesaid, under one contract or agreement, any one or more of such articles or animals may be held under the lien, hereinbefore mentioned, for all of the charges upon all such articles included in such contract or agreement.
W. Va. Code § 38-11-3
It means that (ii) doesn't apply and you're back to (i).
Now that you pointed that out, it seems obvious. But wading through those endless sentences can be confusing to the layperson! Where did you get that shark photo? Did you take it?? I've taken many pics of white sharks myself.
I can't afford an attorney, so I'm trying to fight a lien and lawsuit Per Se (representing myself)

Self representation is either "pro per" or "pro se".

I argued that I paid in advance for a turn-key project, and they need to finish

No need to argue, simply produce the receipts, invoices, and written estimate on the original service order.

Say what?

You don't possess, or failed to request a written estimate before initiating the work.

Things just became tougher for you, mate.

West Virginia Auto Repair Costs & Prices - ProMatcher Cost Report

Why You Should Really Insist On Getting A Written Estimate Before Getting Your Vehicle Repaired! - My Mechanic Joe