A developer sought to recover $749,000 in fees it claimed should not have been charged by a town. The fees were paid on October 18, 2013, and the developer filed suit to recover the fees on October 17, 2016. The statute of limitations for the developer’s claim is three years. The developer clearly thought it had filed suit just under the wire.

But the statute of limitations accrued, and the clock started to run, when the developer knew of the cause of its claim. The trigger date was not the date of payment (Oct. 18, 2013), but the date when the town advised the developer of the amount due. THAT date was September 27, 2013, when the town passed a resolution requiring payment of the fees.

This case is a reminder that the clock starts to tick when the claim, or cause of action, arises. An invoice, or a payment, may not be the triggering event. The date of the underlying event is most important, and not necessarily the date when the other side refuses to agree with your position, or the date you incur the cost. This developer, thinking it had filed suit just in time, learned otherwise.

The case is Pulte Homes of N.Y. LLC v. Town of Carmel, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 15463 (2nd Cir., June 8, 2018).