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Court of Appeals Affirms Summary Judgment for Architect in Construction Defect Action

March 27, 2013

Kent Stair, Paul Sperry, and Patrick Norris represented an architect in an action in Charleston County, South Carolina brought by the homeowner’s association of a condominium complex. The court initially denied the architect’s motion for summary judgment on statute of limitations grounds, holding that while the plaintiff was on notice of potential construction-related defects more than three years prior to filing the action, the plaintiff was not on notice of any design-related defects. However, following oral arguments on the architect’s motion to reconsider the denial of summary judgment, the court ultimately agreed with the architect’s position that the statute of limitations is an objective, rather than subjective, concept. The court reversed its original decision and granted summary judgment on all of the plaintiff’s claims against the architect by order dated January 4, 2012, holding that the plaintiff had an opportunity to investigate the defects when originally brought to its attention. The plaintiff’s failure to ascertain the particular cause of the defects–construction, design, or otherwise–did not toll the running of the statute of limitations. ┬áThe South Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed this decision on March 27, 2014.

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