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Sunset Presbyterian Church v. Brockamp & Jaeger, Inc.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 04-24-2014
Case #: S061171
Walters, J. for the Court; En Banc.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/S061171.pdf

Contract Law: In a construction contract specifying the issuance of a Certificate of Substantial Completion as a deadline for the accrual of claims, summary judgment is not appropriate if the date of completion is contested; while evidence of being used for its intended purpose is evidence of completion, that does not eliminate the need for a Certificate of Substantial Completion.

Sunset Presbyterian Church (Sunset) contracted with Brockamp & Jaeger, Inc. (Brockamp), a general contractor, to build a new church. This contract provided that claims arising from construction would accrue on the “date of Substantial Completion,” defined as when the architect declares a particular stage has been reached. At trial, Brockamp moved for summary judgment, arguing first that Sunset had not filed its claim within the time specified by the contract, and second that Sunset’s claims were barred by ORS 12.135, which imposes a ten year statute of limitations on claims arising out of improvements made to real property. Both motions were granted and reversed by the Court of Appeals. The Court affirmed the Court of Appeals, holding that Sunset occupying the property for its intended purpose on a particular date did not establish when Sunset’s claims accrued; under the contract, only until the architect issues a Certificate of Substantial Completion do claims accrue. Furthermore, the Court held that because the date of completion was contested, summary judgment could not be decided. Reversed and remanded.