Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sedar v. Knowlton Construction Company case brief

Sedar v. Knowlton Construction Company case summary
551 N.E.2d 938 (Ohio 1990)
Tort Law

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Appellant injured individual sought review of an order from the Court of Appeals for Cuyahoga County (Ohio), which upheld the constitutionality of a statute of repose for tort actions against architects, construction contractors, and others performing design and construction services for improvements to real property. The repose statute was found in Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2305.131.

-Appellant, Michael R. Sedar, was a nineteen-year-old student at Kent State University when, on September 11, 1985, he was severely injured by passing his right hand and arm through a panel of wire-reinforced glass in one of the doors of his dormitory, Clark Hall.
- Clark Hall had been designed between 1961 and 1963 by appellee Larson & Nassau, architectural engineers.
-Appellee Knowlton Construction Company (now known as Arga Company) of Bellefontaine, Ohio, was the general contractor throughout the construction of Clark Hall, which construction was completed by December 31, 1966.
-Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2305.131 barred tort actions against architects, construction contractors and others who performed services related to the design and construction of improvements to real property, where such action was brought more than 10 years following the completion of the services. -In addition to his due process and equal protection assertions against the statute, the injured individual asserted that a discovery rule should be incorporated into the statute for injuries caused by static conditions in a building.

The court held that: (1) the discovery rule had no application in the construction case setting, (2) the statute did not violate due process because the legislature's choice of a 10 year cut-off for construction related tort actions was neither unreasonable nor arbitrary, and the statute satisfied a proper public purpose of preventing stale litigation and its attendant risks, (3) the statute did not violate the "open court" and "right to remedy" provisions of the Ohio Constitution, and (4) a rational basis existed for the legislative classifications in the statute.

CONCLUSION: The court affirmed the order finding that the construction statute of repose was constitutional.

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