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Weston v. McWilliams & Associates

April 12, 2005

WILLIAM B. WESTON, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MCWILLIAMS & ASSOCIATES, INC., D/B/A TOP VALUE HOMES, APPELLANT,
v.
TAPPE CONSTRUCTION, RESPONDENT, PANELCRAFT OF MINNESOTA, INC., ET AL., RESPONDENTS, WINDSOR WINDOW COMPANY, RESPONDENT.



Dakota County District Court File No. C3-03-010176.

Considered and decided by Minge, Presiding Judge, Wright, Judge, and Crippen, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

The Minnesota statute of repose is stated as a ten-year time period when an action can "accrue" and further states that a suit can be brought within two years after the tenth year. When a contribution and indemnity claim accrues in fact after the specified ten-year period, the statute deems the accrual to occur at the tenth anniversary, and suit can be brought on such a claim in years eleven and twelve.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Crippen, Judge

Reversed and remanded

Crippen, Judge*fn1

OPINION

This appeal requires judicial interpretation of the statute of repose for claims premised on defective and unsafe real estate improvements. Appellant contends the ten-year statute (running from the date when construction is completed), because it limits when an action can "accrue," permits suits within the normal two-year limitation period in the eleventh or twelfth year after construction is completed, even though its claim accrued in fact after the ten-year anniversary. Determining that a proper interpretation of the statute requires this result, we reverse the summary judgment dismissing appellant's contribution and indemnity claims and remand the proceedings to the district court.

FACTS

In 1993, plaintiffs Weston and Schwalbe contracted with appellant Top Value Homes to build a home in Eagan. Top Value subcontracted with respondents Tappe Construction (framing), Panelcraft of Minnesota (siding), and Windsor Window Company (manufacturing windows). A certificate of occupancy was completed for the home on July 20, 1993.

In 2002, an inspector of the home found significant amounts of mold and believed the cause was water intrusion. This followed the deteriorating health of plaintiffs and their children. In May 2003, two months before the tenth anniversary of completion of the home construction, plaintiffs brought an action for damages against appellant Top Value. Appellant initiated contribution and indemnity action against respondents in March and April 2004, in the eleventh year after construction was completed. The contribution and indemnity claim had not ripened before the tenth year following construction.*fn2 Following motions premised on the statute of repose in Minn. Stat. § 541.051, subd. 1(a) (2002), the district court granted summary judgment to respondents.

ISSUE

Did the district court correctly determine that Minn. Stat. ยง 541.051, subd. 1(a) (2002), bars initiation of a contribution and indemnity suit in the ...


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