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On March 5, 2019, the Supreme Court of Ohio will hear oral argument in the case of New Riegel Local School District v. The Buehrer Group Architecture & Engineering, et al, to decide whether to apply Ohio’s 10 year statute of repose to block the school district from suing the design and construction team over water intrusion claims in a building constructed more than 12 years ago.  SANEO filed a “friend of the court” brief on behalf of its members in support of the construction team in that case.  SANEO’s argument is that requiring subcontractors to defend their work more than 10 years after an owner takes occupancy is not permitted under the current statute of repose because the Ohio legislature intended to give all contractors and subcontractors protection against having to defend stale claims for building defects.  The New Riegel School District is arguing the statute of repose does not apply to its claims for breach of contract, and therefore it’s claims against the contractors 12 years after the building was first occupied are not barred.  48 states, including Ohio, have some kind of statute of repose on their books.  A statute of repose is a law that bars claims for construction defects after a certain number of years, regardless of when the alleged problem developed.  A statute of repose is intended to provide a hard deadline after which no future claims involving alleged construction defects can be filed (unless a contractor has given an extended warranty that lasts beyond 10 years).  It protects contractors and design professionals from getting sued over building issues years after the projects have been turned over, or their warranties have expired, and is an important limitation on what would otherwise be open ended liability.  If the Supreme Court allows New Riegel’s lawsuit to proceed, then it means contractors and subcontractors will not get the full protection from the statute of repose the Ohio legislature intended, making this case a very important one for subcontractors.  SANEO is represented in this case through its legal counsel Todd A. Harpst and Joseph R. Spoonster of Harpst Ross & Becker Co., LLC in Akron. 

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