(CN) – A gospel music group can try to reclaim its touring van after a mechanic refused to release it, the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled.
The Swift, a Tennessee gospel group that performs for young people, was traveling through Iowa when its customized $70,000 van broke down.
Mechanic John Sheffey performed the repairs and billed the band $8,000, but the vehicle still needed a rebuilt engine.
When a mechanic from the local Ford dealership arrived to perform the work, Sheffey refused to release the van until the band paid him for his work.
The Swift sued Sheffey and his company, TNT Services, for replevin and $21,658 for loss of the use of the van.
The trial court ruled that the musicians could not prevail because it failed to disprove the artisan’s lien Sheffey had claimed.
Judge Mary Tabor reversed the decision on appeal, however, ruling that the burden of proof should have been on Sheffey.
“We conclude there is insufficient evidence Sheffey had a valid artisan’s lien on the vehicle,” Judge Mary Tabor wrote for the appellate panel. “Without such proof, Sheffey wrongfully possessed the Swift’s vehicle after the Swift requested its return.”
Chief Judge Rosemary Shaw Sackett dissented with her colleagues on the court, stating simply that she would have affirmed the district court’s judgment.