Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Limiting liability through contract negotiation

A recent, but unpublished, Washington appellate case upheld a contractual provision limiting the time in which suit must be filed. The case is titled Pedowitz v. Above all Roofing. Normally, the statute of limitations for bringing a claim for breach of a written contract is six years. In a roof repair contract, however, the contractor inserted a provision requiring suit to be filed within 18 months of substantial completion. Although having notice of defects in the work performed, the owner did not file suit until after 18 months of substantial completion. The appellate court held that the trial court correctly dismissed the action as untimely.

In support of its holding, the Court of Appeals relied on Southcenter View Condominium Owners Association v. Condominium Builders, 47 Wash. App. 767 (1986). Whether or not the shortened statute of limitations period would be upheld in the case of latent defects not discovered within 18 months is an open question, but there are two lessons to be learned.

First, if you are a contractor, you should consider language limiting the time in which suit must be filed.

Second, if you are a homeowner, you should read the contract carefully to ensure you are not limiting your recourse.

If you would like a copy of the case, you can email me at Full text of the case can be found at:

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