Hahn Loeser’s Construction Group won another legal battle last week on behalf of Ohio contractors and sureties in the ongoing fight over the interpretation of Ohio’s statute of repose, Revised Code 2305.131. The statute of repose protects contractors and design professionals by limiting the time in which claims for design and construction defects are enforceable.
In Board of Education of Tuslaw Local School District v. C.T. Taylor Company, et al., the Stark County Court of Common Pleas granted motions to dismiss filed by Hahn Loeser on behalf of a general contractor and its surety. The court’s ruling adopted the expanded interpretation of the statute of repose finding that the statute bars both contract claims and claims based in tort, such as negligence. The defendants in the Tuslaw case also successfully defeated novel arguments asserted by the school district that would have significantly extended the warranty periods applicable to work performed by general contractors and architects.
Although the ruling in Tuslaw is a clear victory for contractors, the fight is not over. The question of whether the statute of repose applies to both contract and tort claims is currently before the Ohio Supreme Court in a closely-watched case that could significantly impact the construction industry throughout Ohio.
No matter the outcome of the matter pending before the Ohio Supreme Court, as a best practice to protect from lawsuits that may be barred by the statute of repose, contractors should maintain complete and accurate project records — especially including evidence of the project’s date of substantial completion — for at least 15 years after a project is finished. Good project documentation is the best defense against any project dispute, including claims that would be precluded by the statute of repose.
For additional information on the statute of repose or updates on the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision, visit our Construction Practice web site.