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Clock Ticks Longer in Disputes Over Written Contracts
Description Contractor sued architects for breach of contract for problems with work provided. Suit was filed more than two years after project was completed. Architect’s assertion that the general two year statute of limitations precluded the suit was rejected in favor of a six year statute of limitation that applies to economic damages in disputes arising from written contracts.
Topic Court Procedure
Key Words Statute of Limitations, Economic Loss, Breach of Contract
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Cathco hired Crane architects in 1991 to provide architectural services in Cathco’s Provo Town Square project in Provo, Utah. The construction project had many problems. In December 1995, Cathco sued Crane, among others, claiming breach of contract and seeking damages for the economic losses Cathco suffered.
Lower Court Decision Crane’s motion for summary judgment due to expiration of statute of limitations was denied. One Utah statute of limitations provides two years within which to file suit once the alleged problem has been discovered, or could have been discovered, or two years after completion of a project. Cathco discovered possible problems with Crane’s work in 1992. The property was occupied in April 1993, so Crane contended the statute had expired. However, another statute of limitations provides that an action may be brought within six years "upon any contract, obligation, or liability founded upon an instrument in writing...." Cathco could rely on this six year statute since there was a written contract.
Supreme Court Decision Affirmed. The statute of limitation Crane relies on applies to "injury to persons or property." That includes torts and other actions, but not purely economic damages suffered from breach of contract, which is what Cathco claims. The statute of limitation Cathco relies on is specific in its language as to the kinds of cases it covers, so it applies and the suit proceeds.
Citation Cathco Inc. v. Valentiner Crane Burnjes Onyon Architects, Slip Copy (1997 WL 522803, Sup, Ct., Utah)
944 P. 2d 365 (Sup. Ct., Utah, 1997)

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