A few months ago, the Florida legislature amended the existing 10 year statute of repose – the time period one has to sue for latent or hidden defects.
The law had stated that a lawsuit based on the design, planning or construction of an improvement to real property must be commenced within 10 years after the latest of the following events:
- The date of actual possession by the owner;
- The date of the issuance of a certificate of occupancy;
- The date of abandonment of construction if not completed; or
- The date of completion or termination of the contract between the professional engineer, registered architect or licensed contractor and his or her employer, whichever is latest.
This latest change added the following language: “Counterclaims, cross-claims and third party claims that arise out of the conduct, transaction or occurrence set out or attempted to be set out in a pleading may be commenced up to one year after the pleading to which such claims relate is served even if such claims would otherwise be time barred.”
What this amendment did was to extend the time a claimant now has to bring an action. So, for example, a general contractor can now have an additional period to bring in potentially liable subcontractors and materialmen into any litigation with which it may have been sued and which may be nearing the 10 year expiration period.