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HOA Has No Claim to Extend Statute of Limitations in Construction Defect Case

October 28, 2011 — CDJ Staff

The California Court of Appeals ruled on September 20, 2011 in the case of Arundel Homeowners Association v. Arundel Green Partners, a construction defect case involving a condominium conversion in San Francisco. Eight years after the Notice of Completion was filed, the homeowners association filed a lawsuit alleging a number of construction defects, including “defective cabinets, waterproofing membranes, wall-cladding, plumbing, electrical wiring, roofing (including slope, drainage and flashings), fire-rated ceilings, and chimney flues.” Three years of settlement negotiations followed.

Negotiations ended in the eleventh year with the homeowners association filing a lawsuit. Arundel Green argued that the suit should be thrown out as California’s ten-year statute of limitations had passed. The court granted judgment to Arundel Green.

The homeowners then filed for a new trial and to amend its complaint, arguing that the statute of limitations should not apply due to the doctrine of equitable estoppel as Arundel Green’s actions had lead them to believe the issues could be solved without a lawsuit. “The HOA claimed that it was not until after the statute of limitations ran that the HOA realized Arundel Green would not keep its promises; and after this realization, the HOA promptly brought its lawsuit.” The trial court denied the homeowners association’s motions, which the homeowners association appealed.

In reviewing the case, the Appeals Court compared Arundel to an earlier California Supreme Court case, Lantzy. (The homeowners also cited Lantzy as the basis of their appeal.) In Lantzy, the California Supreme Court set up a four-part test as to whether estoppel could be applied. The court applied these tests and found, as was the case in Lantzy, that there were no grounds for estoppel.

In Arundel, the court noted that “there are simply no allegations that Arundel Green made any affirmative statement or promise that would lull the HOA into a reasonable belief that its claims would be resolved without filing a lawsuit.” The court also cited Lesko v. Superior Court which included a recommendation that the plaintiffs “send a stipulation?Ķextending time.” This did not happen and the court upheld the dismissal.

Read the court’s decision…

HOA Has No Claim to Extend Statute of Limitations in Construction Defect Case