Court: Architecture firm not liable for faulty installation at Dells waterpark.

AuthorShaw, Dan

Byline: Dan Shaw,

A Wisconsin architectural firm can't be held liable for flawed installation work at a Wisconsin Dells water park because of a state statute limiting when claims over faulty jobs can be brought.

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals decided last week to uphold a lower court's ruling dismissing claims that Architectural Design Consultants, of Lake Delton, should be liable for the flawed installation of a vapor barrier during the most recent expansion of the Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells. Work on the project, which included the addition of an 80,000-square-foot indoor waterpark, was deemed substantially completed in 2006. About a year later, Chula Vista discovered that the vapor barrier had not been installed according to Architectural Design's specifications.

Architectural Design Consultants responded by working with the general contractor on the project to have spray-foam insulation installed instead. Chula Vista didn't file its claim for damages until 2017.

Architectural Design, which was represented by the law firm DeWitt LLP, based its case for not being held liable almost entirely on the timeline. Wisconsin's "statute of repose" bars owners and other contracting parties from bringing legal actions over improvements to real property more than a certain number of years after such improvements have been substantially completed. In this case, the limit for the statute of repose was deemed to be 10 years.

The Court of Appeals found that because Chula Vista's suit came more than a decade after the expansion project on its resort was substantially complete, it ran afoul of the statute of repose. The appellate judges summarily...

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