Rhode Island tort law generally sets a statute of limitations that mandates when a claim can be pursued against an architect, developer, or construction company for defects in the construction of a building. If a Rhode Island construction lawsuit is not filed within the statute of limitations, a plaintiff will not be able to obtain relief for their claim. Thus, it is essential to know the time when the statute of limitations period begins to run.
A recently decided case out of Massachusetts demonstrates the uncertainty surrounding statutes of limitations for tort claims, especially when building defects occur in a multi-phase project that is completed over a matter of years.
In the recently decided case, the plaintiffs include the owners of several condominium units that are part of a multi-phase development that was completed between 2008 and 2015. The plaintiffs discovered alleged design and construction defects in the common and limited common elements of the condominium, which may have entitled the owners to damages from the defendants. The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the defendants based on their claim. Because Massachusetts has a six-year statute of repose for the type of claim filed, the defendants asked the court to dismiss all of the portions of the claim applicable to units in the development that were completed more than six years before the filing of the case. The federal district court denied the defendant’s motion, and the case was appealed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (the Court).