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SB 77 Restores Two Year Statute of Limitations

Posted by: 
Benjamin H. Hammond
Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Architects in Michigan can now breathe a collective sigh of relief – the six year statute of limitations has been returned to the historic two year limitation time period.

On October 4, 2011, Governor Rick Snyder signed Senate Bill 77, which is now known as Public Act 162. This bill addressed a significant change in the law that occurred in 2006 when the Michigan Supreme Court decided Ostroth v Warren Regency. In that case the Court looked at two statutes which appeared to be in conflict with one another. While MCL 600.5805 provided that a party only has two years to bring a lawsuit against a design professional, MCL 600.5839 indicated that a party had up to six years to file a suit arising from a defective or unsafe condition on a construction project. The courts in Michigan had routinely read these statutes together and held that the two year statute of limitation applied. The court in Ostroth, however, concluded that the six year period applied and effectively made Michigan the only state in the country with a six year statute of limitation for design professionals.

Public Act 162 now specifically clarifies that an action against a design professional arising from the rendering of professional services is subject to the two year statute of limitations. The new law takes effect January 1, 2012, and will apply to causes of action that accrue after that time.

The limitations defense is one of the most powerful weapons design professionals have at their disposal when defending lawsuits. With the passage of this new law, design professionals now have more certainty as to when claims must be filed and should be pleased by the reduction from a six year statute of limitations to a two year statute of limitations.

The AIA Michigan Government Affairs Committee was instrumental in facilitating this change in the law.  The Government Affairs Committee worked tirelessly behind the scenes on your behalf for several years to achieve this result.  There were many political hurdles to overcome and many twists and turns along the way, but the commitment to this legislation and the support of the AIA was key in the ultimate passage of the new law.  Members of the Government Affairs Committee were present with Governor Snyder when he signed the bill, a proud moment for the Government Affairs Committee and all members of AIA Michigan.