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A Blog about Real Estate, How it Can Be Damaged, and Disputes Over its Transfer

This blog is a personal blog written to discuss legal issues affecting Georgia property, and how it is damaged, transferred, and fought over. I write this partly to keep abreast of the law, and partly to offer a forum for my writing. In order to find content, I often analyze Georgia Supreme Court decisions. I try to update this blog as I can, but writing is a time consuming process.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Georgia Supreme Court Finds No Loopholes in Statute of Repose

In the legal opinion of Rosenberg v. Falling Water, Inc., Case No. S10G0877 (March 18, 2011), the Georgia Supreme Court held that the eight year statute of repose for bringing an action to recover for construction defects barred a personal injury victim from suing for physical injuries caused by a collapsed deck more than ten years after the issuance of the certificate of occupancy for the house.  The court rejected the idea that O.C.G.A. Section 9-3-51applied only to construction defects and did not extend to actions for personal injuries.

A statute of repose is a special statute of limitations that cuts off all possible claims after a statute of limitations has expired.  While four and six year statutes of limitations may apply to claims for defective construction, there are exceptions to the underlying statutes of limitations that can extend the operation of the statute of limitations, such as where a defendant conceals the defect.   The statute of repose then steps in to cut off the exceptions to the statute of limitations after another extended period so that a plaintiff cannot come back decades later and pursue a construction defect claim.  

In Georgia, the statute of repose for construction defects protects industry professionals from eternal liability for building structures that may last for a long time.   It applies to architects and engineers as well as builders.

This opinion of the court should be footnoted in that it was issued by a court divided 4-3.  

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