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Late Filing Contractor Barred from Involving Subcontractors in Construction Defect Claim

March 1, 2012 — CDJ Staff

The Colorado Court of Appeals looked at that state’s Construction Defect Action Reform Act in determining if a general contractor could add subcontractors as third-party defendants to a construction defect lawsuit. Shaw Construction, LLC was the general contraction of the Roslyn Court condominium complex, and was sued by the homeowners’ association in a construction defect case. United Builder Services was the drywall subcontractor on the project. MB Roofing had installed roofs, gutters, and downspouts. The certificate of occupancy for the last building was issued on March 10, 2004. The project architect certified completion of all known remaining architectural items in June, 2004.

The HOA filed a claim against the developers of the property on January, 21, 2009. A week later, the HOA amended its complaint to add Shaw, the general contractor. Shaw did not file its answer and third-party complaint until March 29, 2010, sending its notice of claim under the CDARA on March 30.

The subcontractors claimed that the six-year statute of limitations had ended twenty days prior. Shaw claimed that the statute of limitations ran until six years after the architect’s certification, or that the HOA’s suit had tolled all claims.

The trial court granted summary judgment to the subcontractors, determining that “substantial completion occurs ‘when an improvement to real property achieves a degree of completion at which the owner can conveniently utilize the improvement of the purpose it was intended.’”

The appeals court noted that “Shaw correctly points out that the CDARA does not define ‘substantial completion.’” The court argued that Shaw’s interpretation went against the history and intent of the measure. “Historically, a construction professional who received a complaint responded by ‘cross-nam[ing] or add[ing] everybody and anybody who had a part to play in the construction chain.’” The court concluded that the intent of the act was to prevent unnamed subcontractors from being tolled.

The court further rejected Shaw’s reliance on the date of the architect’s certification as the time of “substantial completion,” instead agreeing with the trial court that “the architect’s letter on which Shaw relies certified total completion.”

The appeals court upheld the trial court’s determination that the statute of limitation began to run no later than March 10, 2004 and that Shaw’s complaint of March 29, 2010 was therefore barred. The summary judgment was upheld.

Read the court’s decision…

Late Filing Contractor Barred from Involving Subcontractors in Construction Defect Claim