How do I get around the statute of limitations on real property damage (landslide caused by City drain pipe connection in 2005)? Discovery rule?
5 Answers from Attorneys
Actually, if you are going to sue the City, you would have to first file a claim. Your time to file a claim has long since expired. Once the time to file a claim has expired, a party must first file a petition with the court, seeking leave to file a late claim.
I seriously doubt that you would be able to convince any court that you did not discover landslide damage until now. Good luck with that.
The statute of limitations clock begins to tick when your cause of action arises (or "accrues," to use the technical term). If a drain pipe connection was done improperly in 2005, thus causing a landslide in 2009, there is a strong argument that you had no cause of action in 2005 because you had suffered no harm for which you could have brought suit. The cause of action is for money damages from the slide in 2009, in my thinking at least.
Also note that there is a ten-year statute of limitations applicable to certain harms resulting from certain kinds of latent construction defects which may be helpful. See Code of Civil Procedure section 337.15.
In addition to the general statute of limitations considerations, you need to consider the Government Claims Act, formerly known as the Tort Claims Act, which requires timely presentation of a summary of your claim to the appropriate governmental body within a certain time frame. This can be an even more constraining requirement. See Government Code sections 900 et seq. See especially 911.2.
Notice of claim and statute of limitations issues are so tricky that you are advised to see an attorney with government claims experience as soon as possible.
Get to a lawyer for a face to face NOW. There are many many complexities in landslide litigation. I once handled a landslide case involving over twenty homes that settled when I discovered that a sewer that had been leaking into the head of the slide for years was within a city utility easement, meaning it was a city, not private, sewer. City tried limitations arguments but they got no where based on the facts of the case and timing and basis of discovery of the true facts. But you now know what you know and why, so the clock is ticking. Get to an experienced attorney with municipal and land law background.
If the landslide just happened, then you should have some options. However, filing a claim against a city is complicated, and often a prerequisite to suing in court. There are very strict timelines. I have sued cities multiple times. Please let me know if you are serious about retaining counsel. I have worked on a flooding case against a city before, representing multiple property owners.
Daniel Bakondi, Esq.
The Law Office of Daniel Bakondi, APLC
870 Market Street, Suite 1161
San Francisco CA 94102
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