PLATO ASSOCIATES, LLC v. ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE SERVICES, INC., et al., SC 18404
Judicial District of New Haven
Statute of Limitations; Architects, Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors; Whether Trial Court Properly Concluded that Plaintiff's Claims were not Governed by the Statute of Limitations in General Statutes § 52-584a. The plaintiff contracted with Environmental Compliance Services, Inc. (the company), to perform a site assessment to determine whether property that it intended to purchase was subject to the Hazardous Waste Transfer Act. The assessment was necessary in order for the plaintiff to obtain financing. To evaluate the condition of the property, the company made five borings and installed two monitoring wells. In a report provided to the plaintiff on January 18, 2001, the company concluded that the property did not appear to be an "establishment" to which the act would apply. After the plaintiff bought the property, the company reported that it had changed its opinion and that the property fell under the act. On August 31, 2007, the plaintiff brought this breach of contract and negligence action against the company and its manager, a licensed environmental professional. The defendants moved for summary judgment, contending that the plaintiff's claims were barred by the statutes of limitations for contract and tort actions in General Statutes §§ 52-576, 52-577 and 52-584. The plaintiff countered that its claims were governed exclusively by the statute of limitations in General Statutes § 52-584a, which provides that no action, whether in contract or tort, may be brought against an architect, professional engineer or land surveyor "for any deficiency in the design, planning . . . or construction of, or land surveying in connection with, an improvement to real property . . . more than seven years after substantial completion of the improvement." The plaintiff contended that the defendants' failure in 2001 to identify the property as being covered by the act was a deficiency in the design, planning, construction or land surveying in connection with an improvement to the property and that this failure prevented it from securing financing necessary to make improvements. The court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment, finding that § 52-584a was not applicable to the plaintiff's claims. In doing so, it noted that in Grigerik v. Sharpe, 247 Conn. 293 (1998), the court held that where an improvement to real property is planned but never effectuated because of an alleged defect in an architect's or engineer's services, § 52-584a applies. Here, however, the trial court found that the plaintiff failed to allege what improvements could not be completed as a result of the allegedly faulty site assessment. On appeal, the plaintiff asserts that the trial court misapplied Grigerik. It further contends that the improvements in this case were substantially completed when the wells were installed and the borings were made.