Under Illinois law, a lawsuit related to the “construction of improvements to real property,” must be filed within 10 years of when construction of the improvement is complete. L awrence and Rochella Schott filed a lawsuit against Halloran Construction Co. Inc. seeking damages for injuries Lawrence sustained when he fell off a retaining wall in 2001. The Schotts claimed that Halloran was negligent in failing to build a guardrail or barrier to prevent people from falling off the wall when it was built in 1990 and repaired in 1994.
Following trial, a jury returned a verdict against Halloran Construction and in favor of the Schotts. On appeal, Halloran argued that the suit was barred by the statute of repose set out in section 13-214 (b) of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, which states that:
“No action based upon tort, contract or otherwise may be brought against any person for an act or omission of such person in the design, planning, supervision, observation or management of construction, or construction of an improvement to real property after 10 years have elapsed from the time of such act or omission.”
The Illinois Appellate Court for the Fifth District found that the 1994 repair did not constitute a “construction of an improvement to real property” and therefore the Schotts’ claims were barred by the statute of repose which began to run when the initial construction of the wall was completed in 1990 – more than ten years before Lawrence Schott fell off the wall in 2001.
The Court wrote “it is clear that an improvement to real property is an addition to real property amounting to more than a mere repair or replacement and which substantially enhances the value of the property.” While it is clear that when the retaining wall was built in 1990 it was “an improvement to real property,” the Court wrote that it is “just as clear that the work done … in 1994 was not an improvement to real property but was mere repair of an existing structure.” To read the court’s full opinion, click here.
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