In Palisades at Fort Lee Condominium Association v. 100 Old Palisade, LLC, et al., 2017 N.J. LEXIS 845 (Palisades), the Supreme Court of New Jersey addressed how the discovery rule – which tolls the statute of limitations – applies in construction defect cases. The court clarified that, when a building has multiple owners, the statute of limitations begins to run when the first owner – be it an original or subsequent owner – in the line of building owners reasonably knew or should have known of the basis for a cause of action.
When the validity of a construction defect claim depends on whether the claim is barred by the applicable state’s statute of repose, it is important to review the statute to identify when claims subject to the statute of repose accrue. In Busch v. Lennar Homes, LLC, 219 So.3d 93 (Fla. Ct. App. (5th Dist.) 2017), the Court of Appeals of Florida clarified the accrual date for the statute of repose in cases where the accrual date depends on a construction contract’s completion date. Pursuant to Busch, the date of full performance under the contract, not the building’s purchase closing date, is the date on which claims accrue.
In Damon v. Vista Del Norta Dev., LLC, — P.3d –, 2016-NMCA-083, 2016 N.M. App. Lexis 52 (N.M. Ct. App.), the Court of Appeals of New Mexico addressed the trigger date for the ten-year statute of repose for a physical improvement of real property. Adopting a nuanced approach to interpreting the statute’s three-prong trigger test, the court made it clear that the type of “improvement” at issue is specific to each defendant. Thus, there can be separate statute of repose accrual dates for each different defendant.
In Dominguez v. Hayward Industries, Inc., Certified Gunite Company d/b/a Custom Pools, and John M. Pieklo, — So.3d —-, 2015 WL 5438782 (3d DCA Sept. 16, 2015), the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Third District, discussed whether products liability claims related to a pool filter, a component part of a pool system, were subject to Florida’s twelve-year products liability statute of repose, section 95.031, Florida Statutes. The court held that a pool filter does not constitute an improvement to real property and, thus, the plaintiffs’ claims were subject to the statute of repose.
Pursuant to North Carolina Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1), a plaintiff, under certain conditions, can voluntarily dismiss his or her complaint and file a new action based on the same claim within one year after the dismissal. In Murphy v. Hinton, — S.E.2d –, 2015 WL 4081966 (N.C. App. July 7, 2015), the Court of Appeals of North Carolina considered whether the plaintiff, who voluntarily dismissed her wrongful death complaint without prejudice, could take advantage of Rule 41(a)(1)’s tolling provision and extend the statute of limitations for an additional year. The court, following Estrada v. Burnham, 316 N.C. 318, 341 S.E.2d 358 (1986), held that, in order to toll the statute of limitations, the original complaint must conform in all respects to the rules of pleading. The court also held that the plaintiff’s complaint failed to satisfy the notice pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(1) because the plaintiff’s negligence claim failed to identify the duty that the plaintiff owed, failed to allege unreasonable conduct and otherwise failed to reference the essential elements of a negligence cause of action. Because the plaintiff’s complaint failed to comply with the “rudimentary notice pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(1),” the court held that the plaintiff could not rely on Rule 41(a)(1) to extend the statute of limitations. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court’s order dismissing the plaintiff’s complaint based on the statute of limitations.