A Change to § 541.051 is Blowing in the Wind
The Statute of Limitations for injuries to property during construction in § 541.051 is in the process of being amended. The bill, HF2743, recently passed the Senate unanimously and was signed by Governor Dayton.
Jacob Tomczik, a shareholder and member of the McCollum Crowley construction litigation team, was involved in the drafting of the provision of § 541.051. Tim Fetterly interviewed Jake regarding the amendment to § 541.051 and his involvement:
- Q: How did you become involved in the amendment of § 541.051?
- A: McCollum Crowley represents a trade organization for building contractors. The trade organization asked McCollum Crowley to review the proposed amendment to protect the interests of its trade members. The original draft of the amendment would have had impacts far beyond the intended scope of the amendment.
- Q: What is the amendment to § 541.051?
- A: The amendment provides that a claim for damage to an improvement to real property does not accrue (and the statute of limitations does not begin to run) prior to the substantial completion of the Project.
- Q: Why is the amendment necessary?
- A: The amendment will primarily apply to larger construction projects that may take years to complete. Under the prior version of the statute, the cause of action accrued upon discovery of the injury and the two year statute of limitations began at that time. This forced some contractors to bring suit during construction so that the claim would not be time barred. The construction industry wanted to toll the statute during the construction in the hopes that the parties still working on projects could resolve their differences, rather than be forced to pursue litigation in order to preserve their claims.
- Q: What impact will the amendment have?
- A: The effect of the amendment will allow contractors involved large projects more time to resolve their disputes before resorting to formal litigation.
- Q: What is the current status of HF2743 and when will it become law?
- A: Governor Dayton signed HF2743 on May 8, 2018 and it went into effect on the day of enactment. The amended § 541.051 applies to all causes of action accruing on or after May 8, 2018.
- Q: Are further revisions planned for § 541.051 or § 327A?
- A: There are no current plans for further revisions to §541.051 or § 327A. However, MCIOA (the statue for homeowner’s associations) was recently amended to expressly permit HOA’s to assert construction claims.
Jake Tomczik and Tim Fetterly are both shareholders and members of the construction litigation team at McCollum Crowley.