Statutes of Repose

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Generally, in California and many other states, a lawsuit alleging a latent construction defect must be brought within three or four years (depending on the theory of recovery) after the plaintiff discovers, or should have discovered, the defect. The California Legislature capped the open-ended nature of this “discovery” rule when it enacted Code of Civil Procedure Section 337.15, a statute of repose that “established a further general rule that no action for latent construction defects may be commenced more than 10 years after ‘substantial completion’ of the construction project. This ‘absolute’ 10-year limitations period applies regardless of when the defect was discovered.

A statute of repose for actions arising out of improvements to real property differs from a statute of limitations in that the repose period starts to run on the date of the substantial completion of the improvement, while the limitations period starts to run on the date of a plaintiff’s injury.