October 19th, 2022 by Rieders Travis in Statute of Limitations

Venema v. Moser Builders, Inc., 2022 Pa. Super. LEXIS 414 (October 4, 2022) (Pellegrini, J.)  Matthew P. Venema and Liza A. Squires (Appellants) seek review of an order of the Court of Common Pleas Chester County (trial court) awarding judgment on the pleadings to Moser Builders, Inc., d/b/a/ Moser Homes and Moser Homes, LLC, and Moser Construction Management, LLC d/b/a Moser Homes (referred to collectively as “Moser”). In 2019, Appellants filed several claims against Moser alleging that the defective construction of their residence had caused them damages. Moser moved for judgment on the pleadings on the ground that Appellants’ claims were time-barred by the 12-year Statute of Repose (42 Pa.C.S. § 5536) for actions concerning construction defects. The trial court granted Moser’s motion and dismissed Appellants’ complaint with prejudice. Appellants now argue that their complaint was timely filed because the Statute of Repose period was tolled by Moser’s ongoing repairs to the residence. We affirm. Appellants cite no cases or statutes (and we find none) supporting their contention that Moser’s repairs to the residence delayed the completion of the residence’s construction or tolled the Statute of Repose period. Rather, our Supreme Court has held that a Statute of Repose “generally may not be tolled, even in cases of extraordinary circumstances beyond a plaintiff’s control.” Dubose v. Quinlan, 643 Pa. 244, 173 A.3d 634, 644-45 (Pa. 2017)see also Kornfeind v New Werner Holding Co., 2020 PA Super 266, 241 A.3d 1212, 1220 (Pa. Super. 2020) (explaining that a statute of repose period creates a near absolute bar on a defendant’s temporal liability which begins on the date on which a claim first accrued). We have also held that in this context, “completion of the construction of such improvement,” marks the “commencement of the repose period at the point when third parties are first exposed to defects in design, planning, or construction.” Catanzaro v. Wasco Prod., Inc., 339 Pa. Super. 481, 489 A.2d 262, 266 (Pa. Super. 1985) (quoting Patraka v. Armco Steel Co., 495 F. Supp. 1013 (M.D. Pa.1980)). Accordingly, regardless of any repairs Moser may have done once the residence was legally occupied, the occupants would have been exposed to the alleged defects in 2003, and the Statute of Repose period would have continued to run without interruption from that point on. Accordingly, the trial court did not err in ruling that Appellants’ claims are time-barred by the Statute of Repose, and the order granting judgment on the pleadings to Moser must stand.

Attorney Cliff Rieders

Attorney Cliff RiedersCliff Rieders is a Nationally Board Certified Trial Lawyer practicing personal injury law. A large part of his practice involves multi-district litigation, including cases related to pharmaceuticals, vitamin supplements and medical devices. He is admitted in several state and federal courts, as well as the Supreme Court of the United States. Rieders is the past regional president of the Federal Bar Association and is a life member of the distinguished American Law Institute, which promulgates proposed rules adopted by many state courts. He is a past president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. As a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, he served on the Board for 15 years.

Not only has Rieders held many highly esteemed, leadership positions, he authored legislation related to the Patient Safety Authority and the Mcare Act, which governs medical and hospital liability actions in Pennsylvania. He authored texts upon which both practitioners and judges rely, including Pennsylvania Malpractice Laws and Forms, and Financial Responsibility Law Issues in Pennsylvania, the latter governing auto and truck collisions in Pennsylvania. In addition, he wrote several books on the practice of law in Pennsylvania regarding wrongful death and survivor actions, insurance bad faith, legal malpractice claims and worker rights, among others. Rieders also serves as a resource to practitioners as a regular speaker for Celesq, an arm of the world’s largest legal publisher, Thomson Reuters West Publishing.

As recognition of his wide range of contribution to his profession and of his dedication to protecting the rights of his clients, he received numerous awards, among them the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, the Milton D. Rosenberg Award, the B’nai B’rith Justice Award, and awards of recognition from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. [ Attorney Bio ]



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