South Carolina District Court Clarifies Statute of Repose

A SC District Court has reached a decision regarding a potential exception to the eight year statute of repose. Claims brought against an architecture firm and a contractor were barred as untimely despite alleged building code violations. Hampton Hall LLC v. Chapman Coyle Chapman & Associates Architects AIA Inc., et al., No. 17-1575, D. S.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17795).

SC Statute of Repose

South Carolina Code § 15-3-640 provides that “[n]o actions to recover damages based upon or arising out of the defective or unsafe condition of an improvement to real property may be brought more than eight years after substantial completion of the improvement.” The statute has an exception for gross negligence and fraud which, when a prima facie showing is made, the statute is tolled.

Building Code Violation Does Not Trigger Gross Negligence Per Se

The Court held that “no authority suggests defects that violate a building code are exempted from the statute of repose governing claims for defective construction. To the contrary, South Carolina Code § 15-3-670(B) provides, “the violation of a building code of a jurisdiction or political subdivision does not constitute per se fraud, gross negligence, or recklessness” for purposes of the gross negligence, recklessness, fraud, or concealment exception to the statute of repose.”

Thus, a building code violation does not make a prima facie showing of gross negligence.

Original Article