Anoka County District Court File No. 02-CV-11-5536
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kalitowski, Judge
This opinion will be unpublished and may not be cited except as provided by Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2012).
Considered and decided by Worke, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Schellhas, Judge.
UNPUBLISHED OPINION KALITOWSKI, Judge
Appellants, homeowners Rodney and Pamela Lee (the Lees), challenge the district court's order granting summary judgment in favor of respondent-contractor Gorham Builders Inc. (Gorham), arguing that the district court erred by concluding that their statutory-warranty and common-law claims were barred by the applicable statutes of limitations. We affirm.
Summary judgment is appropriate when there are no genuine issues as to any material fact and either party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Minn. R. Civ. P. 56.03. "We review a district court's summary judgment decision de novo. In doing so, we determine whether the district court properly applied the law and whether there are genuine issues of material fact that preclude summary judgment." Riverview Muir Doran, LLC v. JADT Dev. Grp., LLC, 790 N.W.2d 167, 170 (Minn. 2010) (citation omitted). We must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the party against whom judgment was granted. State Farm Fire & Cas. v. Aquila Inc., 718 N.W.2d 879, 883 (Minn. 2006).
Minn. Stat. § 327A.02, subd. 1(c) (2010), states that contractors must provide to homeowners a warranty ensuring a residential dwelling will be free from major construction defects for a ten-year period. "Major construction defect" is defined as follows: actual damage to the load-bearing portion of the dwelling or the home improvement, including damage due to subsidence, expansion or lateral movement of the soil, which affects the load-bearing function and which vitally affects or is imminently likely to vitally affect use of the dwelling or the home improvement for residential purposes. "Major construction defect" does not include damage due to movement of the soil caused by flood, earthquake or other natural disaster.
Minn. Stat. § 327A.01, subd. 5 (2010).
Minn. Stat. § 541.051, subd. 4 (2010), requires that statutory-warranty claims "be brought within two years of the discovery of the breach" of the statutory warranty under Minn. Stat. § 327A.02 subd. 1(c). The two-year limitations period "begins to run when the homeowner discovers, or should have discovered, the builder's refusal or inability to ensure the home is free from major construction defects." Minn. Stat. § 541.051, subd. 4.
The Lees initiated their statutory-warranty claim in June 2011, over two years after they received a May 2009 inspection report that identified several defects to their home. The Lees argue that the May 2009 inspection report did not trigger the running of the two-year statutory period because it did not notify them of a "major construction defect." We disagree.
The May 2009 inspection report identified several defects to the Lees' home. The report indicated that the exterior of the home lacked various devices, such as kick-out flashings and weep screeds, designed to prevent moisture from entering the stucco cladding, wood framework, and foundation. The report also identified numerous areas of the house that had moisture readings of 20% or greater, which may indicate "mold growth" and "wood rot." And, most importantly, the report identified several possible structural defects: (1) "cracks in the stucco which could indicate a structural condition or seismic movement"; (2) "structural or stress relief ...