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Florida Construction Law News

19FEB 2015

CSK’s Legislative Update – House Bill 501

by David S. Harrigan, Esq.

In addition to HB 87 / SB 418, CSK also continues to monitor the progress of House Bill (“HB”) 501, entitled “Limitation of Actions,”  as it makes its run through the 2015 session of the Florida legislature.  The objective of HB 501 is to alter the current state of Florida law regarding the time within which claims may be brought for a latent defect in the design, planning, or construction of an improvement to real property. Simply put, enactment of the proposed Bill will decrease the statute of repose on construction-related claims in Florida from 10 years to 7 years.

Section 95.11(3)(c), Florida Statutes, currently provides a statute of limitations of 4 years on construction-related claims, as well as a statute of repose period of 10 years.  The statute of repose differs significantly from the statute of limitations. Whereas the statute of limitations limits the time within which an action may be brought, based upon the accrual of a cause of action, the statute of repose imposes a bar on claims after the repose period expires, regardless of the circumstances.

The current 10-year repose period has been effective since reduced from 15 years in 2006, and HB 501 seeks to further restrict the time within which construction-related claims may be brought by further reduction of the repose period to 7 years.  As with the current iteration of the Statute, the statute of repose will begin to run from the later of the following events:

  1. Actual possession of the improvement by the owner;
  2. Issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy;
  3. Abandonment of the construction, if not completed; or
  4. Termination of the contract between the professional engineer, registered architect, or licensed contractor and his or her employer.

If approved, HB 501 provides an effective date of July 1, 2015.  The 7-year statute of repose will apply to all actions commenced on or after that date, regardless of when the cause of action accrued. As a caveat, however, any action that would not have been barred by the existing statute of repose but will be barred by the newly-enacted statute will not be immediately disallowed.  Instead, such actions may be commenced before the first anniversary of the amendment, on July 1, 2016, after which any actions not yet filed will be forever barred.

To date, HB 501 has begun moving through pre-session committee meetings.  The Civil Justice Subcommittee voted on the Bill on February 17, 2015, and the Bill narrowly passed with a 7-6 margin.  The Bill will next move to the House Judiciary Committee.

CSK will continually to monitor this Bill through session and provide updates with any news, votes, amendments, and potential implications. Please check back frequently for more Capitol Reports concerning HB 501 and other important legislative actions.

Posted By David S. Harrigan, Esq.

David S. Harrigan is a Partner in CSK’s Construction Group and practices in the Orlando office. Mr. Harrigan is a Board Certified Specialist in Construction Law. He concentrates his practice primarily on construction litigation matters, including construction defect and contract claims, on behalf of architects, engineers, developers, contractors, and subcontractors, professional liability claims and general business disputes on behalf of design professionals, and premises liability claims on behalf of property owners.