Today AIA Ohio filed a Memorandum in Support of Jurisdiction as amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) in the Ohio Supreme Court.
At issue is the uniform enforcement of Ohio’s Statute of Repose, Revised Code 2305.131, which prevents any litigation against architects ten years after substantial completion of a project. This differs from the statute of limitations, which requires that a lawsuit be filed within four years after an injury is known. The Statute of Repose holds that no claim exists to sue upon after a decade, regardless of when the claim became known.
Ohio’s Third District Court of Appeals sided with a local school district, which sued a design professional for construction defects thirteen years after occupancy. The school district claimed that the Statute of Repose does not apply to projects in which the architect has a contract. Typically, property owners only retain architects through contract, essentially making the Statute of Repose a nullity.
The lower Court’s decision is contrary to a recent Fifth District Court of Appeals’ decision to the opposite effect, barring a public agency from suing an architect after ten years. Ohio’s General Assembly included in the legislation its intent to protect architects who “lack control over the improvement, the ability to make determinations with respect to the improvement, and the opportunity or responsibility to maintain or undertake the maintenance of the improvement”.
In this case, the design professional appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court in a discretionary appeal, arguing that the conflict among courts creates a statewide issue requiring a statewide decision. AIA Ohio filed in favor of the design professional to urge the Supreme Court to take the case.
The Supreme Court will rule on whether to hear the case after opposition briefing from the school district.