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Tibbitt v. Eagle Home Insps., LLC, 2023 Pa. Super. LEXIS 506 (October 30, 2023) (Lazarus, J.).

Erin D. Tibbitt (f/k/a Erin D. Miller) appeals from the order, entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, dismissing all of her claims against Appellee Eagle Home Inspections, LLC (Eagle), and entering judgment on the pleadings in Eagle’s favor. After careful review, we affirm.

The issue raised was whether the one-year statute of limitations provided in the Pennsylvania Home Inspection Law is tolled by the Discovery Rule.

On appeal, Tibbitt claims that section 7512, a one-year statute of limitations, was tolled by the discovery rule in the instant case. Thus, she claims the court improperly dismissed the action where the statute had not yet expired. In the alternative, Tibbitt argues that if section 7512 is classified as a statute of repose, and not limitations, then it is unconstitutional.

Our Supreme Court has held that “the distinguishing feature between [statutes of repose and statutes of limitation] is that ‘statutes of repose potentially bar a plaintiff’s suit before the cause of action arises, whereas statutes of limitation limit the time in which a plaintiff may bring suit after the cause of action arises.'” Matharu v. Muir, 2014 PA Super 29, 86 A.3d 250, 263 (Pa. Super. 2014) (emphasis added), citing Vargo v. Koppers Co., Inc., 552 Pa. 371, 715 A.2d 423 (Pa. 1998). Thus, “statutes of repose begin to run at the time of the negligent act, while statutes of limitations do not begin to run until the cause of action accrues.” Matharu, supra at 263. See also Abrams v. Pneumo Abex Corp., 602 Pa. 627, 981 A.2d 198, 211 (Pa. 2009), citing Black’s Law Dictionary 1251 (8th ed. 2004) (“A statute of repose is defined as a ‘statute barring any suit that is brought after a specified time since the defendant acted . . . , even if this period ends before the plaintiff has suffered a resulting injury.”).

§ 7512. Statute of limitations.

An action to recover damages arising from a home inspection report must be commenced within one year after the date the report is delivered.

68 Pa.C.S.A. § 7512. While the heading of section 7512 is “Statute of limitations,” section 1924 of the Statutory Construction Act provides that “[t]he headings prefixed to titles, parts, articles, chapters, sections and other divisions of a statute shall not be considered to control[,] but may be used to aid in the construction thereof.” 1 Pa.C.S.A. § 1924 (emphasis added).

Based upon the clear and unambiguous language of section 7512, we agree with the trial court that the statute is intended to be one of repose, and not limitations, where the action commences on the date of the delivery of an inspection report—the occurrence of a “specific event,” independent of any injury or discovery of any injury.

Because the home inspection report was delivered to Tibbitt on February 16, 2017, and Tibbitt did not file her lawsuit until more than one year later, on March 20, 2019, her action is time-barred by section 7512. Thus, we affirm the trial court’s order granting judgment on the pleadings.