Client Alert: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Issues Decision Regarding Statute of Repose

On November 3, 2020, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued an important decision concerning the interpretation and application of the Statute of Repose. (The Statute of Repose bars claims asserted more than 6 years after an improvement to real estate is substantially completed or opened for use.) Donovan Hatem submitted an Amici Curiae brief to the Court on behalf of ACEC/MA and AIA/MA, representing the interests of the design professional community.

In the case, D’Allessandro v. Lennar Hingham Holdings, LLC, the Court was asked to decide when the Statute of Repose was triggered in a multi-phase, multiple building condominium. To read a copy of the decision, click here

The Court adopted virtually all of the positions advanced in the Amici brief, and concluded that the Statute of Repose struck a reasonable balance between the public’s right to a remedy for defects in design and construction with the need to place an absolute outer limit on liability for those defects. The decision is very favorable to the design professional community. On the central issue posed, the court held:

“Where a condominium development is comprised of multiple buildings… each building constitutes a discrete ‘improvement’ for purpose of G.L. c. 260, §2B [Statute of Repose], such that the opening of each individual building to its intended use, or the substantial completion of the individual building and the taking of possession for occupancy… triggers the statute of repose.”

The court rejected the contrary argument, advanced by the plaintiffs and accepted by the Massachusetts federal district court, that the Statute was not triggered until the entirety of the multi-phase, multi-building condominium was completed, since that would lead to open-ended exposure, defeating the essential purpose of the Statute.

To read the original post and the Amici brief filed by Donovan Hatem in April 2020, click here. 

Related Attorneys: David J. Hatem, PCJon C. Cowen

Tags: ACECAIAAmicus Briefconstructionreal estateSJC