Know When Your Claim “Accrues” or Risk Losing It

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“Accrual” is, in general terms, when the plaintiff was originally harmed or should have known it was harmed.

August 20, 2019
Christopher G. Hill - Construction Law Musings

I have discussed statutes of limitation on construction claims in various contexts from issues with a disconnect on state projects to questions of continuous breach here at Construction Law Musings. For those that are first time readers, the statute of limitations is the time during which a plaintiff can bring its claim, whether under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act (VCPA), for breach of contract, or for any other legal wrong that was done to him, her or it by another. The range of limitations runs the gamut of times, for instance it is 5 years for breach of a written contract and 6 months for enforcement of a mechanic’s lien. This time period is calculated from the “accrual” of the right of action. “Accrual” is, in general terms, when the plaintiff was originally harmed or should have known it was harmed (depending on the particular cause of action).

A recent case out of the Circuit Court of Norfolk, Virginia examined when a cause of action for a construction related claim under the VCPA accrued and thus whether the plaintiff’s claim was timely. In Hyde Park Free Will Baptist Church v. Skye-Brynn Enterprises Inc., the Court looked at the following basic facts (pay attention to the dates):

The Plaintiff, Hyde Park Baptist Church, hired the Defendant, Skye-Brynn Enterprises, Inc., to perform certain roof repairs that were “completed” in 2015. Shortly after the work was done, in 2015, the Plaintiff informed Defendant that the roof still leaked and that some leaks were worse than before. The Defendant unsuccessfully attempted repair at the time. 14 months later in 2017, the church had other contractors examine the roof and opine as to its faulty installation. Also in 2017, the church submitted roof samples to GAF, the roof membrane manufacturer and in February 2018 GAF responded stating that the leaks were not due to manufacturing defects. The church filed its complaint on October 1, 2018 breach of contract, breach of warranty of workmanship and fraud in violation of the VCPA. Defendant responded with a plea in bar, arguing that the statute of limitations barred the claim.

Mr. Hill may be contacted at chrisghill@constructionlawva.com



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