New Definition for Term "Completion" in Florida for Construction Defect Lawsuits

Miller & Martin PLLC Alerts | August 14, 2017

by Neil Wilcove

For those that perform work in Florida, the Florida legislature updated the law pertaining to when construction defect lawsuits must be brought. While the Statute of Limitations for construction defect cases is four years, there was never really a set date on when the four years begins to run. Many cases in Florida are filed after the four-year statute of limitation as disputes erupt over when the statute of limitations actually begins to run. There is a Statute of Repose in Florida, which is ten years from the date of the latest to occur: actual possession by the owner, the date of the issuance of certificate of occupancy, the date of abandonment of the project if construction is not completed or the date the construction (or design) contract was completed or terminated.

Effective July 1, 2017, the definition for "completion of the contract" has been defined as “the later of the date of final performance of all the contracted services or the date that final payment for such services becomes due without regard to the date final payment is made.” While there will certainly be litigation over what the definition means, as people will fight over whether final performance has occurred or whether final payment has become due, at least the Florida legislature has decided to take on the issue.

No matter what state you perform work in, you need to be cognizant of the applicable statute of limitations and statute of repose (if there is one). These laws will impact contractual language on the front of the project and how you deal with claims on the back end. It will impact how long you should keep your project files, insurance policies and potential impacts on bonding capacity. In Florida, at least, depending on the type of work you perform, it could also determine whether the statute of repose applies to your work.

If you have questions regarding how statutes of limitations or statutes of repose impact your work, please contact Neil Wilcove or any other member of our Construction Practice Group.

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