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Owner Can't Sue Architect For Defects It Knewabout5 Years Prior

Friday, September 21, 2012 05:52 am


Construction Defects--Property Damage

City of Chattanooga, Tennessee, et al. v. Hargraves Assoc., Inc., 2012 Tenn. App. Lexis 405 (June 21, 2012)

An architect's diligent reporting of project defects came in handy when the owner sued for recovery five years later--two years too late according to Tennessee statute.

In 2002, the Chattanooga Downtown Redevelopment Corporation (CDRC) and the City of Chattanooga, Tennessee (collectively, Chattanooga) hired architect Hargreaves Association, Inc. (Hargreaves) to design a downtown waterfront area along the Tennessee River. Seven years later, in 2009, Chattanooga sued Hargreaves for design and construction deficiencies. Hargreaves claimed that Tennessee Code Annotated section 28-3-105(1) barred the suit since the statute requires that actions for injuries to real property be commenced within three years "from the accruing of the cause of action." A trial court and the Court of Appeals of Tennessee agreed that "the cause of action" had indeed occurred more than three years before Chattanooga's suit.

The certificate for substantial completion was issued in 2005. Nevertheless, Chattanooga claimed that it had no knowledge of the design and construction defects until 2007 when electrical problems with the waterfront passageway were brought to its attent [...]

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