Can Asbestos Really Be an “Improvement” to Real Property?
If you ask contractors, engineers, and others in the construction business in most states, they will likely tell you that they retain construction project records for a certain number of years. The reason for this practice is that most states have a statute of repose for improvements to real property which bar suits for construction defects, unless they are brought within a certain number of years after the completion of the improvement. Rose v. Fox Pool Corp., 335 Md. 351, 378, 643 A.2d 906, 919 (1994) (noting that “[s]pecial limitations statutes dealing with claims arising out of defects in improvements to real property currently exist In 43 other jurisdictions” in addition to Maryland). The origin of most of the statutes of repose is the model statute drafted by the American Institute of Architects, the National Society of Professional Engineers, and the Associated General Con1ractors, which provided:
No action, whether in contract (oral or written, sealed or unsealed), in tort or otherwise, to recover damages
(i) for a deficiency in the design, planning, supervision or observation of construction or construction of an improvement to real property,
(ii) for injury to property, real or personal, arising out of any such deficiency, or
(iii) for injury to the person or for wrongful death arising out of any such deficiency, shall be brought against any person performing or furnishing the design, planning, supervision or observation of construction, or construction of such an improvement more than four years after substantial completion of such an improvement.
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November 21, 2014