Statute of Limitations vs. Statute of Repose

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    Cedric Reuter

    Funny, I just ran across the same conflict the other day and considered posting here about it, but a little research uncovered the answer. I don't have the Ballast review manual but found a similarly misinformed quote in the Handbook of Pro Practice.

     

    As far as I can tell:

    a Statute of Limitations begins running from the date in which the damages are discovered

    a Statute of Repose begins running from the date of substantial completion

     

    It is a little frustrating that the sources are so poorly assembled, but it seems this is a common mistake (with our lawmakers even allegedly confusing the two https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statute_of_repose)

     

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    Jennifer Doty

    Cedric is right. Ballast did a terrible job proof reading their 5.0 book. Any time you're like, "Huh that doesn't add up," regarding Ballast, you're most likely right.

    I like to think of Statute of Repose as the "flaw" is just sitting around (reposed) waiting to be discovered, within the set amount of time, which is usually set by the state, it's often something like a 10-year period. If it's discovered after the statute is over, then it's no longer the designer or contractor's liability. That way you can't be held accountable for a building like 30 years after it was built.

    The statute of limitations is set to encourage timeliness of reporting flaws as soon as they're discovered. It's similar to the contract provision where if the contractor discovers something on site that is incorrect he/she must report it within 21 days.

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    Stephanie Waples

    Thanks Cedric and Jennifer!

    I had been leaning towards Ballast having it backwards since I couldn't find another source that said the same thing they did. I suppose I'll add it to the (quite long) errata sheet PPI has going for that first edition... Happy that you guys could confirm that I wasn't missing something.

    Stephanie

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    Cedric Reuter (Edited )

    It was actually a chapter in AHPP that ffirst give me the incorrect definition.

    Since AHPP is a compilation of essays from different authors, there is a lot of repetitious information through the book. I first learned about repose v limitations in reading the definition in chapter 5.1 Architects and the Law, which mistates the definitions, and so I started out learning the wrong definition... since I made note of it and was pretty confident about it, I was surprised when I got the question wrong in a Ballast Practice Exam. The definition they gave in the answer explanation was correct (though I didn't know which one was right after first seeing that haha) but it led me to check AHPP. Since I have the ebook I did a search and cross referenced all the instances of "statute of repose" definitions in the book (there are at least 2 or 3) and realized that, of course, the only one I had read was the only incorrect one.

    As I said before, seems to be a very common mistake.

    The benefit to all these shenanigans? I won't forget the difference between Statute of Repose and Statute of Limitations for the rest of my life!

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    Stephanie Waples (Edited )

    You're right, Cedric. I just checked Chapter 5.1 of AHPP and they definitely got it backwards there, too.... No wonder I was confused. 

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    Kristina Blazevski-Charpentier

    You can send publishers your questions and they will issue errata. I did for this same topic of repose but related to the practice questions. I am finding the examples, charts and explanations in AHPP much more useful and better written than Ballast book.

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    Cullen Hollyn Taub

    I am so happy people have been talking about this! Jennifer- Your break down if perfect. Cheers!

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    Mattin Jahanmehr

    Here are definitions from 'The Architect's Handbook of Professional Practice' glossary:

    Statute of limitations: A statute specifying the period of time within which legal action must be brought for legal relief after an alleged injury or damage has occurred. The lengths of the periods vary from state to state and depend upon the type of legal action.

    Statute of repose: A statute limiting the time within which an action may be brought, without relation to whether injury has yet occurred or been discovered. The time begins when a specific event occurs, such as substantial completion of a project, and the statute of repose may extinguish the remedy even before a cause of action has accrued.

    In regard to statute of repose starting point It further defines: "Unlike a statute of limitations, a statute of repose begins to run at the end of construction or whenever services were last provided." which in my view is at the final completion. 

    On the other hand, in 'Professional Practice: A Guide to Turning Design into Buildings' Paul Segal states that "statute of repose provides a time limit on the right of a plaintiff to bring an action. The beginning of the time limit, or trigger date, may be either substantial completion or when the potential problem was observed (vague and hence undesirable)."

     

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    Mohamad Farhat

    My two cents .. guys the law is written by lawyers and the wording is unclear and confusing on purpose. So if there is a conflict about a Case, they want us to hire them to interpret the laws...in brief lawyer s put a bait for clients catchment

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    Luke Petrocelli (Edited )

    Jennifer is right, the key word here is "repose" which means to lay dormant, undisturbed.

    LIMITATIONS: The clock doesn't start ticking until you find the construction flaw. You then get a limited time to report the flaw.

    REPOSE: Clock starts ticking when the work is done. If you don't find the flaw in time, you eventually miss your chance at holding someone liable for it.

    Another key thing is that a Statute of Repose can nullify/cap a Statute of Limitations.

    A simplified example:

    Statute of Limitations = 4 years

    Statute of Repose = 4 years

    You contract someone to replace your window. They replace the window in May of 2010, and the work is signed off.

    In May of 2013, you notice a bad construction detail causes the window to leak.

    Although the Statute of Limitations gives you 4 years worth of time now that you found the flaw (up until May 2018) you really only have 1 year left to file a claim because the Statute of Repose cuts you off in May 2014 (4 years from the date of completion in May 2010).

    This is the rationale behind Ballast's practice exam question regarding how long you should keep project records. Once the Statute of Repose is up, you're in the clear regardless of the Statute of Limitations.

    That's how I understand it, anyway. I too learned this the wrong way initially from AHPP chapter 5.1 and have since spent a day unraveling it.

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    Mary Wissinger (Edited )

    This video helped me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0S_LHMAMMo

     

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    Justin Francisco

    Luke, I came searching as well due to the same question in ballast Practice Exam!

     

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    Samantha Lopez

    Mary, thank you for the video. I'm here for the same reason as everyone else and that's what I needed to understand :) I'm just starting and must say all the helpful advice from the community is amazing. 

     

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    Liam Shea Hartigan

    I like to think of the term "in repose" for the statute of repose. Repose trumps limitations.
    In Repose = it's dead. Forget about it.

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    Liam Shea Hartigan

    Also, Ballast contradicts too. Page 5-6/7 (clock starts on limitations on discovery) compared to page 2-11 called out by Stephanie above.

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    Guillermo Perez

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