Supreme Court Clarifies Architect, Engineer, Surveyor Statute of Limitations

In Plato Associates, LLC v. Environmental Compliance Services, Inc., 298 Conn. 852 (2010), the high court clarified the law regarding the circumstances under which the seven year statute of repose in General Statutes § 52-584a (suits against an architect, professional engineer or land surveyor) applies as opposed to the shorter statutes of limitations in negligence and contract claims.

In this case, the plaintiff had sued the defendant, a professional engineer, alleging breach of contract and negligence claims. The underlying dispute arose out of the defendant’s providing an environmental site assessment of certain property the plaintiff was anticipating purchasing. Before the plaintiff could get financing for the purchase of and improvement to the property, it needed to determine that the property was not an “establishment” as that term is defined under the Connecticut Transfer Act, because an establishment is a parcel of real property that has been polluted. The defendant incorrectly certified that the property was not an establishment.

The Supreme Court clarified the following: 1) in order to come within the purview of § 52-584a, it is not necessary that the plaintiff establish that the defendant’s services constituted “professional engineering services;” and 2) the definition of “improvement to real property.” The court concluded that it was a jury question in this case whether the defendant’s services were performed in connection with an improvement to real property and whether the monitoring wells dug by the defendant constituted an improvement to property within the meaning of the statute.