If you follow this blog, you know that for a Portland construction defect attorney and their client, the statute of limitations is a major issue. The statute of limitations sets the time period after which you cannot bring a lawsuit against a contractor for defective construction. Why is this such a huge issue? It's because many construction defects aren't apparent until well after the contractor has shut down his work and moved onto the next project. In fact, often times, in Oregon or Seattle construction defect cases, we see water intrusion that does not become apparent until even years later.
What does this mean in practical terms? Well, the answer isn't always clear, but in the case of Oregon construction lawsuits, homeowners received some clarity in the recent Abraham decision. This is a two part blog series on that case.
In March of 2011, The Oregon Supreme Court issued an important opinion for construction defect actions in Oregon. Abraham v. T. Henry Construction, Inc. involved a construction defect claim by the Abrahams, homeowners, against the contractors who built their home. The main issue in the case was whether the Abrahams could recover on a negligence claim against the defendant/contractor for damages to their home despite having entered into a contract with the contractor. This was a critical issue, because the statute of limitations for contract lawsuits and negligence lawsuits in Oregon is different.
If the Abrahams were not allowed to maintain a negligence claim, they would not be able to recover damages, because the statute of limitations on their breach of contract claim had expired. The Supreme Court determined that, in absence of contract language limiting the Abrahams right to assert a negligence claim, the Abrahams could maintain an action for construction defect against the defendant/contractor based on negligence. This was a huge win for homeowners in Oregon. In Part II of this blog series, we will explore the rationale behind the decision in more depth.