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Statute of Limitations Upheld in Construction Defect Case

September 30, 2011 — CDJ Staff

The Missouri Court of Appeals has ruled in Ball v. Friese Construction Co., finding that Mr. Ball’s claims were barred by the statute of limitations.

Mr. Ball hired Friese Construction Company to build a single-family home. The sale was completed on March 29, 2001. That December, Mr. Ball complained of cracks in the basement floor. SCI Engineering, n engineering firm, hired by Friese, determined that the home’s footing had settled and recommended that Mr. Ball hire a structural engineer to determine if the footings were properly designed and sized. In September 2002, the structural engineer, Strain Engineering, determined that the cracks were due to slab movement, caused in part by water beneath the slab, recommending measures to move water away from the foundation. In 2005, Mr. Ball sent Friese correspondence “detailing issues he was having with the home, including problems with the basement slab, chimney structure, drywall tape, and doors.” All of these were attributed to the foundation problems. In 2006, Friese stated that the slab movement was due to Ball’s failure to maintain the storm water drains.

In 2009, Ball received a report from GeoTest “stating the house was resting on highly plastic clay soils.” He sued Friese in May, 2010. Friese was granted a summary judgment dismissing the suit, as the Missouri has a five-year statute of limitations. Ball appealed on the grounds that the extent of the damage could not be determined until after the third expert report. The appeals court rejected this claim, noting that a reasonable person would have concluded that after the conclusion of SCI and Strain Engineering that “injury and substantial damages may have occurred.”

The court concluded that as there were not “continuing wrongs causing new and distinct damages,” he should have filed his lawsuit after the first two expert reports, not waiting seven years for a third expert to opine.

Read the court’s decision…

Statute of Limitations Upheld in Construction Defect Case