Second Department Grants Leave to Amend Answer to Plead Statute of Limitations Defense Under CPLR 214-c

Felice v. Am. A.W.S., Corp., 846 N.Y.S.2d 656 (N.Y. App. Div. 2007)

In this action, plaintiffs sought to recover for personal injuries and property damages arising out of defendant’s renovation of plaintiffs’ residence.  Plaintiffs alleged that defendant had negligently performed the work, resulting in water leaks and the formation of mold.  Defendant sought leave to interpose an amended answer which included, inter alia, the affirmative defense of statute of limitations.  Defendant contended that the plaintiffs’ causes of action sounded in negligence and thus were governed by a three-year statute of limitations. 

The appellate court uphedl the trial court’s denial of defendant’s motion for leave to plead the affirmative defense.  It reasoned that plaintiffs’ claims were based on breach of contract rather than negligence and, as such, the six-year statute of limitations applied and would not bar the claims. 

However, the appellate court found that the trial court should have granted defendant leave to plead the statute of limitations defense insofar as the complaint pleaded a cause of action to recover damages for personal injuries based upon exposure to a toxic substance.  It observed that such claims may have been barred by the applicable three-year statute of limitations for such exposure, CPLR 214-c.

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