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Vol. 2007-11 | November, 2007

Statutes of Limitations

By definition, statutes of limitations are specific landmark dates, or “deadlines”, by which an act or legal action must be initiated, or it will be forever barred at law. Other deadlines missed may merely impose fines or penalties for lateness. Ominous though it may sound, such cutoffs, including response dates, are essential to an orderly business society and economy, and necessary to provide finality and closure to certain events and claims. Such limitations must not be confused with specific, mandatory filing deadlines for income tax returns, and auto and driver’s license renewals, each of which may carry only monetary penalties for lateness.

Statutes of limitations, like aircraft landings, are mandatory. Some of the most common limitations include:

Notice of Construction Claim Contract Terms

Demand for Arbitration Contract Terms

Construction Defects (After Damage Ensues) 4 yrs

Construction Defects (After completion) – Claims Against Archts, Engrs., Contractors 15 yrs

Notice of Furnishing, Miller Act Liens 21 days

Mechanic’s Liens, Ohio statutes 75 days

Mechanic’s Liens, Residential 60 days

Answer Complaint: Federal Court 20 days

Answer Complaint: State Court 28 days

Appeal from Judgment or Order 30 days

Zoning Board Appeals 30 days

Complaint for Injunctive Relief 7 days

Summary Judgment Motions 30 days

Probate Claims Against Estate 1 year

Malpractice/Professional Negligence 1 year

Wrongful Death Claims 1 year

Motions for Relief from Judgment 1 year

Personal Injury, Property Damage 2 yrs
Worker’s Compensation Claims 2 yrs

Occupational Disease Claims 6 mos

Negligence 4 yrs

Tort Claims 4 yrs

Oral Contract Claims 6 yrs

Written Contract Claims 15 yrs

Importantly, many limitations, stated in a number of days, include weekend days and holidays in such calculations, necessitating early action or filing, to comply with certain deadlines imposed. This may be significant, especially where the controlling date occurs on a holiday, when the Court or agency is closed and will not receive, file, or consider such matters. In many other instances, the time limitations, not unlike a timer, begin to run on the date a judgment or determination is made, filed, or published.

In some limited instances, there may be an express statutory savings clause, providing that where the filing deadline occurs on a weekend or holiday, such filing will be permitted on the next regular business day.

There is insufficient space here to point out or explain important considerations, or even specific qualifications that may apply to each deadline imposed by law. However, it is essential to obtain competent professional assistance, legal counsel and advice, early, without delay, and to assert all claims timely or, in the significant words of statutory construction : “.be forever barred.”

Laws, like houses, lean on one another.

Edmund Burke (1729-97) Irish philosopher, statesman.

AUTHOR / EDITOR: J. NORMAN STARK is an Attorney-at-Law, a Registered Architect, (AIA, NCARB) Registered Landscape Architect, Interior Designer, Planner and Senior Appraiser (ASA), admitted to practice law before the Bar of Ohio, the US District Courts, Ohio and Illinois (Central Dist.), the US Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. He is a Mediator, Arbitrator and Litigator with experience in Business, Construction Law, and Public Works, and with additional experience in Real Estate, Construction Attorney (Legal Project and Crisis Management), and as an Expert Witness (Forensic Architect). His office is in Cleveland, Ohio.