In United Services Automobile Association v. Broan-Nutone, LLC, No. 218 2017 CV 01113,  the Superior Court of Rockingham County, New Hampshire recently considered whether the eight-year statute of repose for improvements to real property applied to the manufacturer of a ceiling ventilation fan that was installed in the property during its original construction. The court held that New Hampshire’s statute of repose did not apply to the manufacturer because it was not involved in incorporating its product into the property.
In 2012, Chad St. Francis purchased a home in Northwood, New Hampshire. The home was originally constructed in 2008, at which time a Broan-Nutone ceiling ventilation fan was installed in the first-floor bathroom. In 2016, a fire occurred at the home. United Services Automobile Association (USAA) provided property casualty insurance for the home and paid Mr. St. Francis for the damage. In 2017, USAA filed a subrogation lawsuit against Broan-Nutone, alleging that its ceiling fan caused the fire due to a design defect within the product. Broan-Nutone filed a motion for summary judgment on grounds that USAA’s action was barred by New Hampshire’s statute of repose for improvements to real property.