The Third District Court of Appeals (Seneca County) recently ruled that Ohio’s statute of repose (R.C. 2305.131) does not apply to breach of contract claims. See New Riegel Local School District, Board of Education and State of Ohio v. The Buehrer Group Architecture & Engineering, Inc., 3rd Dist. Seneca Nos. 13-17-03, 13-17-06, 2017-Ohio-8521.
The case involved alleged defective design and construction of a K-12th grade school project under the state’s school construction program. Initially, the trial court ruled that the school district and state’s claims, including contract claims, were time-barred because they were not brought within 10 years of substantial completion as required under Ohio’s statute of repose (R.C. 2305.131).
On appeal, the court found otherwise with respect to the contract claims and relied upon Kocisko v. Charles Shutrump & Sons Co. et al., 21 Ohio St.3d 98, 488 N.E.2d 171 (1986). In Kocisko, the Ohio Supreme Court analyzed an earlier version of the statute, but with similar language to the current version, and found that the statute did not apply to claims for breach of contract.
While the Third District Court of Appeals found the broad language of the statute’s current version would encompass a breach of contract claim, it nonetheless ruled it was compelled to still follow Kocisko until either the legislature or the Supreme Court chooses to modify the current language of the statute.
Going forward, this case should provide a bit more clarity as to the interplay between Ohio’s statute of repose and contract claims for defective construction. Based on this decision, the time requirements contained in Ohio’s statute of limitations for written contracts (R.C. 2305.06) will apply to contract claims for defective construction. Under R.C. 2305.06, most contract claims arising after 2012 are required to be brought within eight years from when the cause of action accrued.