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).
The Court was tasked with determining whether the statute of limitations started to run for each individual unit upon its competition (the defendants’ position), or whether the statute didn’t start running until the entire development was completed (the plaintiffs’ position). Although there was no explicit statute or case law to inform the Court’s decision, the Court ultimately came down on the side of the defendants. The Court determined that the statute of limitations should begin to run separately on each building as soon as the building was substantially completed and habitable. As a result of this ruling, the plaintiffs would not be able to sue the defendants for defects in any of the buildings that were completed more than six years before they initially filed the lawsuit.
Following the Proper Procedures Is Essential to Real Estate Claims
This recent decision demonstrates the importance of timeliness in pursuing claims against real estate developers and construction companies in the event of defective construction. It is nearly impossible to successfully pursue a claim if it’s not filed before a statute of limitations expires. With an effective legal strategy, it may be possible to extend a statute of limitations beyond the time frame it appears to require, but only a qualified real estate attorney can determine if a claim is worth bringing before a court. If you think you may have a claim for such a case, or any other Rhode Island real estate dispute or legal issue, the experienced Rhode Island real estate attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo can advise you and may be able to help you pursue a claim for the compensation that you deserve. Schedule a free consultation with Bilodeau Capalbo today by contacting our offices at 401-300-4055.