Florida has a ten-year statute of repose which applies predominantly to construction defect claims. This can be found in Florida Statute s. 95.11(3)(c). After ten years, any rights relative to a construction defect claim are time-barred. However, the statute of repose date has been watered down and can be made to be more of a factual question due to the lack of objectivity as to the date that starts the ten-year repose clock. The watering down of the statute of repose date benefits parties asserting construction defect claims provided they strategically appreciate the question of fact that can be created when up against the statute of repose. Stated differently, when up against the clock to assert a construction defect claim, strategically develop those facts, evidence, and arguments to maximize creating a question of fact as to when the statute of repose clock commenced. Conversely, as a defendant sued for construction defects, you want to maximize the facts, evidence, and arguments to fully establish the date the statute of repose clock had to commence for purposes of a statute of repose defense.
The recent opinion in Spring Isle Community Association, Inc. v. Herme Enterprises, Inc., 46 Fla. L. Weekly D2306b (Fla. 5th DCA 2021) demonstrates the factual question associated with the clock that starts the statute of repose date. This factual question is created by Florida Statute s. 95.11(3)(c) that provides:
[T]he action [founded on the design, planning, or construction of an improvement to real property] must be commenced within 10 years after the date of actual possession by the owner, the date of the issuance of a certificate of occupancy, the date of abandonment of construction if not completed, or the date of completion or termination of the contract between the professional engineer, registered architect, or licensed contractor and his or her employer, whichever date is latest.
Spring Isle Community Association, supra. (Note, see also current s. 95.11(3)(c) version in effect per hyperlink above.)