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The Gables and Villas at River Oaks Homeowners Association v. Castlewood Builders, LLC

Supreme Court of Utah

June 29, 2018

The Gables and Villas at River Oaks Homeowners Association, Appellee,
v.
Castlewood Builders, LLC, Appellant.

          On Appeal of Interlocutory Order Third District, Salt Lake The Honorable Su Chon No. 100903697

          A. Richard Vial, Michael J. Vial, Edward W. McBride, Salt Lake City, for appellee

          Heinz J. Mahler, Patrick C. Burt, Chelsey E. Phippen, Salt Lake City, for appellant

          Associate Chief Justice Lee authored the opinion of the Court, in which Chief Justice Durrant, Justice Himonas, Justice Pearce, and Justice Petersen joined.

          OPINION

          Lee, Associate Chief Justice

         ¶l A homeowners association sued the general contractor on a construction project many years after filing suit against other defendants. After several procedural twists and turns, the homeowners association finally filed a viable amended complaint that named the general contractor. But by that time the statute of repose had run on six buildings in the project.

         ¶2 The general contractor moved for summary judgment, asserting that the homeowners association's claims were time- barred. The district court disagreed and denied the motion. The general contractor then filed this interlocutory appeal.

         ¶3 We reverse. We hold that an action is commenced under our law not by the filing of a motion for leave to amend but by the filing of a complaint. And we conclude that the homeowners association's claims are time-barred because no viable complaint was filed within the repose period and the complaint did not relate back to a timely pleading.

         I

         ¶4 Castlewood Builders, LLC was the general contractor on the River Oaks project, a development consisting of eleven buildings in Sandy, Utah. The project's developers were Castlewood River Oaks, LLC; Castlewood Development, LLC; and Castlewood Development, Inc. (collectively, the Developers). The six buildings at issue here were completed in 2006 and 2007.

         ¶5 The HO A for the project, The Gables and Villas at River Oaks Homeowners Association (the Association), later discovered alleged construction defects with the completed buildings. So the Association sued the Developers, asserting claims arising out of defective construction and breach of fiduciary duty. The Developers in turn filed a third-party suit against various subcontractors. At the time, the Association and the subcontractors were unaware of Castlewood Builders' existence.

         ¶6 In March 2012, the Association and the subcontractors realized that Castlewood Builders had acted as the general contractor on the project. The Association was not in privity with Castlewood Builders, however, so it asked the Developers to bring a third-party suit against Castlewood (despite the fact that the Developers had some relation to Castlewood[1]). The Developers agreed. They filed a motion for leave to amend their third-party complaint on May 2, 2012. The district court granted that motion on December 13, 2012. Once the motion was granted, the Developers assigned their claims against Castlewood Builders to the Association.

         The Association then filed an amended complaint on December 17, 2012, adding Castlewood Builders as a defendant.

         ¶7 On December 21, 2012, Castlewood Builders accepted service of the Association's amended complaint. But the court struck that complaint because it was the Developers - not the Association-who had obtained leave to amend. The Association then filed its own motion for leave to amend on July 26, 2013. The court granted that motion on ...


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