Submission of Pre-Suit Claim Notice Required by Construction Defect Statute Timely ‘Commences the Action’ Within the Meaning of the Florida Statute of Repose

Gindel v. Centex Homes, 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 13019 (Fla. 4th DCA Sept. 12, 2018)

 A group of townhome owners (the “Homeowners”) sued the contractor and a subcontractor (collectively, “Contractor”) who built their townhomes, alleging that Contractor performed defective work.  Contractor had completed construction and conveyed the townhomes to the Homeowners on March 31, 2004.  The Homeowners did not discover the alleged defect until years later.  On February 6, 2014, nearly ten years after Contractor completed the work, the Homeowners notified Contractor of the claimed construction defect.  The Homeowners provided that notice in accordance with Florida’s construction defect statute (Fla. Stat. §§ 558.003; 558.004) that requires pre-suit notice of construction defect claims.  The Homeowners completed the statutory pre-suit procedure and filed their lawsuit on May 2, 2014, more than ten years after taking possession of the townhomes.

Contractor argued that Florida’s ten-year statute of repose barred the lawsuit.  While acknowledging that they filed their lawsuit beyond the ten-year period, the Homeowners stressed that the claims were timely because the action truly had commenced within the ten year period when they submitted the pre-suit notice of claim.  The trial court agreed with Contractor and entered summary judgment in its favor.  The Homeowners appealed. Continue reading “Submission of Pre-Suit Claim Notice Required by Construction Defect Statute Timely ‘Commences the Action’ Within the Meaning of the Florida Statute of Repose”

Sharply Divided Massachusetts Supreme Court Holds That the Statute of Repose Bars a Homeowner’s Claim Against a Contractor Under the Consumer Protection Statute

Bridgwood v A.J. Wood Constr., Inc., 2018 Mass. Lexis 561 (Sup. Ct., Aug. 29, 2018)

On October 30, 2000, the city of Newburyport, through its housing rehabilitation program, awarded A.J. Wood a contract for the rehabilitation of Ms. Terry Bridgwood’s home in Newburyport.  Under the city’s contractor agreement for the housing program, Wood was required to comply with certain standards, including that all rehabilitation, alterations, repairs, or extensions be in compliance with all applicable Federal, State, and local codes.  The agreement also required that all contractors and subcontractors must obtain and maintain all necessary permits, and must certify that the work complied with all Federal, State, and local regulations of the Massachusetts home improvement law, among other things.  The work on the Bridgwood home was completed by Wood in 2001.

In 2012, Bridgwood’s home suffered a substantial fire.  She filed suit in the state superior court in 2016, under the Consumer Protection Statute, claiming that Wood and its electrical subcontractor failed to obtain a permit to replace or repair certain ceiling light fixtures on the premises.  Additionally, she alleged that none of the defendants gave proper notice to local inspectors, nor did they perform their work in compliance with the applicable Federal, State, or local codes, as required by the contractor agreement.

Wood moved to dismiss Bridgwood’s lawsuit as untimely under the statute of repose.  The Superior Court agreed and dismissed the suit.  Bridgwood appealed and the appeal was transferred to the Supreme Court.  A divided Supreme Court affirmed in a 4-3 decision. Continue reading “Sharply Divided Massachusetts Supreme Court Holds That the Statute of Repose Bars a Homeowner’s Claim Against a Contractor Under the Consumer Protection Statute”

Supreme Court of Minnesota Holds Ventilator Motor Incorporated Into a Home’s HVAC System Qualifies as “Machinery” Excepted From the State’s Ten-Year Statute of Repose

Great N. Ins. Co. v. Honeywell Int’l, Inc., No. A16-0997, 2018 Minn. LEXIS 236 (May 9, 2018)

This case arises out of a residential construction project and the installation of ventilators into a home’s HVAC system.  Sixteen years after completion of the work, a fire occurred in one of the ventilators, causing property damage.  After paying the homeowners’ insurance claim, Great Northern Insurance (“Great Northern”), as subrogee, filed suit against McMillan Electric Company (“McMillan”), the manufacturer of the motors in the ventilators, asserting claims for product liability, breach of warranty, and negligence, including a claim for breach of a post-sale duty to warn consumers of the risk of fires in ventilator motors.

The trial court granted McMillan summary judgment concluding that Minnesota’s 10-year statute of repose barred all of Great Northern’s claims except for the post-sale duty to warn claim, which also failed because McMillan owed no such duty. The Court of Appeals reversed both holdings.  On appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ decision that McMillan’s motor was “machinery,” to which the statute of repose does not apply. Continue reading “Supreme Court of Minnesota Holds Ventilator Motor Incorporated Into a Home’s HVAC System Qualifies as “Machinery” Excepted From the State’s Ten-Year Statute of Repose”