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Relief from Old Construction Defect Claims: Statute of Repose Applies To Tort and Contract Claims

Kegler Brown Construction Alert

There are two ways in Ohio that a claim for building defects is barred by time: the statute of limitations and the statute of repose. The statute of limitations is the period of time for a party suffering harm to file a lawsuit. In Ohio the contract statute of limitations on construction claims was 15 years, but was changed to 8 years back in 2012.

The statute of repose is the period of time after occurrence of project completion that a defect claim must arise or be barred by time. That statute of repose in Ohio is 10 years from the project’s completion (R.C. §2305.131).

The Ohio Supreme Court recently decided a case where the School District was arguing that only the 15 year statute of limitations applied to a leaky roof claim arising from work 13 years back, and that the 10 year statute of repose did not apply to contract claims (only tort claims).

While the Third District Court of Appeals agreed and allowed the defect case to proceed, the Ohio Supreme Court recently reversed and threw out the 13 year old claim, holding that the 10 year statute of repose also applies to contract claims.

This decision means that claims against contractors and bonding companies more than 10 years from the project’s completion are barred by time. Some legal relief for the contracting community when more than a decade has passed from the completion of the project. New Riegel Local School Dist. Bd. Of Edn. v. Buehrer Group Architecture & Eng., Inc., Slip Opinion No. 2019-Ohio-2851. 

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