The suit revolved around the installation of a faulty hot water system in South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, New Jersey. The defendants claimed that the statutory window for claims of this nature had expired by the time the State filed suit. On Thursday, May 30, 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court backed the Appellate Division’s 2008 ruling, holding, among other things, that the claims against certain companies involved in building the prison fell within the 10-year statute of repose.
The crux of the matter was the multiple "completion" stages for the different facilities that the hot water system connected to. While the central plant and certain inmate housing units were connected to the fully operative water system in 1997, some of the buildings were only completed and connected to the system in 1998, a significant one-year difference that proved crucial considering the ticking clock on the statutory window. Ultimately, the Supreme Court concluded that the installation was not substantially complete until it was connected to every building it would serve.
Mr. Messina was quoted in the Law360 article about how the court ruling could impact future construction projects. He opined that the decision could influence the way contracts for large, multiphase projects are negotiated in the future, particularly with respect to contractors taking greater pains to ensure that certificates of completion are incorporated and granted for certain components of such projects.
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