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Suit Period For Malpractice Against Architect is 3 Years

Napoli v. Moisan Architects
2010 WL 4243404 (2d Dep’t Oct 26, 2010)

This case involved a lawsuit against an architect for malpractice which was dismissed because it was not commenced on a timely basis.

As stated by the Appellate Court, which affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit as time-barred:

Contrary to the plaintiff’s contention, his cause of action for breach of contract (which has a 6 year statute of limitations) is essentially a malpractice cause of action which is governed by the 3-year statute of limitations in CPLR 214[6] from the date the cause of action accrued.

A cause of action accrues for malpractice “upon completion of performance and the consequent termination of the parties’ professional relationship.”

According to 214[6], it matters not whether a claim against an architect or engineer is characterized as either negligence or a breach of contract. For the purpose of this statute of limitations, both are considered to be malpractice and subject to the 3-year suit period.

It should be noted that professional relationships are subject to the “continuous representation” rule which tolls or extends the beginning of the suit period to the last date on which the architect stopped rendering professional services in connection with the project. See, In Re Clark Patterson Engineers, 809 NYS2d 247 (3d Dep’t, 2006).

Also, as stated in Belunes v. Minskoff Grant Realty and Mgt, 278 AD2d 143 (1st Dep’t, 2000), “it is well settled that a personal injury action against a design professional by a party who did not retain the architect accrues on the date of the injury … and the 10-year statute of limitations [in CPLR 214-d] begins to run at the completion of the professional relationship, which is usualy signaled by the issuance of the final payment certificate.”

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