Donovan Hatem Obtains Appellate Court Victory for Client!

Donovan Hatem secured an appellate court victory for a design professional client when the Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the Superior Court’s dismissal of a lawsuit that alleged defective design and construction of a luxury condominium. The Appeals Court, in its June 23, 2020 decision, agreed with the Superior Court’s dismissal of the claims against the design professional finding that the plaintiff’s claims were time-barred based on the expiration of the three-year statute of limitations for claims of professional negligence and negligent misrepresentation. Click here for a copy of the decision. The Donovan Hatem team was led by Eric Howard and included Karl Fisher.

The underlying litigation concerned the design and construction of a luxury condominium that was substantially completed in 2004. Beginning in 2005 and continuing through 2006, unit owners in one of the buildings of the condominium experienced water infiltration and related problems that resulted in extensive damage to the common areas. In September 2010, the condominium trustees (“Plaintiff”) filed a lawsuit against the entire design and construction team seeking millions of dollars in damages for defective design and construction of the condominium. During the depositions of several unit owners and trustees, the DH team elicited testimony establishing that the water infiltration and related problems started no later than 2006. The statute of limitations for negligence claims in Massachusetts is three years, and the time period begins to run when the plaintiff knew or reasonably should have known that it has suffered harm/damage. The design professional argued that a plaintiff does not need to know the cause of the harm/damage or the full extent of the harm/damage—only that it has been harmed/damaged. The trial court agreed and granted the design professional’s motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal of the professional negligence and negligent misrepresentation claims based on the expiration of the statute of limitations. The trial court rejected Plaintiff’s argument that claims involving condominiums are subject to an equitable tolling of statutes of limitations during the period that a condominium board is controlled by the developer or developer-appointed trustees.

Related Practice Areas: Business Litigation; Professional Practices

Related Attorneys: Eric Howard, Karl Fisher