The Seventh District Court of Appeals’ decision in Union Local School District v. Grae-Con Construction is another important victory for the Ohio construction industry in the ongoing debate over the proper application of Ohio’s construction statute of repose, R.C. 2305.131.  The Seventh District Court of Appeals, applying the Supreme Court of Ohio’s July 2019 decision in New Riegel Local School District v. Buehrer Group Architecture & Engineering, Inc., et al., reaffirmed dismissal of stale breach-of-contract claims under Ohio’s construction statute of repose.  The Seventh District rejected three separate arguments advanced by Union Local, which was attempting to overturn the trial court’s rejection of Union Local’s breach of contract claims against contractors and other project participants.  The Union Local opinion is yet another example of Ohio courts interpreting and applying the construction statute of repose to prevent prosecution of stale claims many years after project completion.

Union Local’s first argument was that the construction statute of repose did not apply to breach of contract claims.  The Union Local appeal had been stayed pending the outcome of New Riegel, so the Seventh District was able to swiftly dispose of Union Local’s argument based on the Supreme Court of Ohio’s July 2019 holding that Ohio’s construction statute of repose bars breach of contract claims as well as tort claims filed more than 10 years after project substantial completion.  (Hahn Loeser previously summarized the impact of New Riegel here.) 
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Strict Application of Claims Waiver Provisions Bars Surety Payment Claims

In Berkley Ins. Co. v. Kent State Univ., Ohio Ct. of Cl. No. 2018-00579JD (Jan. 14, 2019), the Ohio Court of Claims expanded its prior rulings strictly enforcing contract dispute resolution provisions in the public construction contract arena. The Court ruled, despite the circumstances that actually existed between the contracting parties, that a contractor’s surety who takes over and completes a project after the contractor’s default and termination is likewise bound by the contract’s dispute provisions. The ruling reinforces the significant risk of waiver of claims by contractors and their sureties when claims are not promptly submitted in accordance with contract provisions governing disputes, even though all parties are aware of the dispute and claim.


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