In Jetts v. Stewart Bldg. Co., et al., 2010 WL 2384931 (Mich. App. unpublished), the Court of Appeals affirmed summary disposition in favor of a general contractor because the homeowners filed suit too late. The Jetts hired Stewart to construct their new home. Stewart hired Century Brick and Lincoln Brick to supply bricks, and Christopher Fox to install the bricks. A certificate of occupancy was issued on July 25, 2000, and the Jetts moved into the home the following month. During the summer of 2005, the Jetts noticed that several bricks on the home had started to crack and break, as had bricks of the same type that were used to construct a patio wall during 2001. In a report sent to the Jetts on July 11, 2005, based on its inspection of the home, Century Brick determined that the bricks were failing because they were installed at or below grade level, in violation of building codes. A report obtained by the Jetts from a retained consult in October 2006 identified numerous code violations.
The Jetts filed suit in December 2006. Their suit was time barred, because Michigan’s sixyear statute of repose began running when the certificate of occupancy was issued in July 2000. The statute applies to all actions against a contractor. The Jetts argued that an exception applied because gross negligence caused the defect, allowing them one year from the date the defect was discovered within which to file suit. The Court found that the alleged installation amounted to simple negligence, and the owners did not adequately plead gross negligence. The conduct was not “so reckless as to demonstrate a substantial lack of concern for whether an injury results.” Even if the gross negligence exception applied, the Jetts still acted too late because they did not sue within a year of when they discovered or should have discovered the defect. They knew or should have known of the defect by July 2005, but did not file suit until December 2006. As to the brick suppliers, which did not perform installation work, the owners’ claim was barred by the four-year statute of limitations application to the sale of goods.