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Three Year Statute of Limitation of Claims Against Design Professionals Accrues Upon Termination of Relationship

The Appellate Division, Second Department upheld the trial court’s award of summary judgment to an architectural firm, where the cause of action accrued more than three years prior to the commencement of the action in Paul J. Napoli v. Moisan Architects, 77 A.D.3d 895, 909 N.Y.S.2d 389 (2d Dept 2010).

Although plaintiff attempted to couch its claims as breach of contract in an attempt to take advantage of the six year statute, the Appellate Division followed the Court of Appeals’ prior holding in Matter of R.M. Kliment & Frances Halsband, Architects, 3 N.Y.3d 538, finding that such a claim is “essentially a malpractice cause of action”. We were successful in arguing to the court that the termination of the professional relationship between the parties must be viewed in light of the particular circumstances of the case.  The court applied the three year statute from the time the architect completed and filed its plans, which was followed by plaintiff’s delay and failure to proceed with the project for several years thereafter. The Court found the suit commenced four years after the last work performed by the architect was untimely and barred by the three year statute of limitations.