Goodwin v. Kingsmen Plastering, Inc.Annotate this Case
This case required the Oregon Supreme Court's interpretation of ORS 12.135(1)(a). ORS 12.135(1)(a) provided that an action arising from the “construction, alteration or repair of any improvement to real property” must be commenced within “[t]he applicable period of limitation otherwise established by law.” The question in this construction defect case was precisely what is the period of limitation “otherwise established by law.” Plaintiffs argued their action was subject to a six-year statute of limitations set out in ORS 12.080(3). Defendant argued that the action was not for injury to an “interest” in real property, but for damage to the property itself, which is governed by a shorter, two-year statute of limitations described in ORS 12.110(1) that applied to tort actions generally. The trial court agreed with plaintiffs that the six year-limitation period applied, but granted summary judgment for defendant on the ground that plaintiffs brought their action more than six years after the construction was completed. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, holding that, although the six-year statute applied, a “discovery rule” applied, there remained an issue of fact as to whether plaintiffs initiated their action within six years from the time that they knew or should have known of the injury that formed the basis for their claim. After its review, the Supreme Court concluded that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that plaintiffs’ action was subject to the six-year statute: that statute applied to actions for interference with or injury to an “interest” in real property, such as trespass or waste, not to actions for damage to property itself, which are subject to the two-year statute of limitations. There remained, however, a question of fact as to when plaintiffs discovered the damage to their property, which would have triggered the two-year statute of limitations. The Supreme Court therefore affirmed the Court of Appeals with regard to summary judgment, and remanded for for further proceedings.