On March 2, 2020, by a unanimous vote, the House passed HB 968. This Bill seeks to clarify which civil actions are subject to Code Section 9-3-51, which is the eight-year statute of repose for deficiencies in connection with improvements to realty. If passed by the General Assembly, it would explicitly state that the statute of repose will not apply to breach of express warranties. If the Bill is passed, O.C.G.A § 9-3-51 would include a subsection that provides: “This Code section shall not apply to actions for breach of contract, including, but not limited to actions for breach of express contractual warranties.”
This Bill arises from the October 2019 Court of Appeals decision in Southern States Chemical v. Tampa Tank, which we covered in a prior post. Southern States argued the statute of repose did not apply to claims for breach of express warranty, especially to long-term warranties that extend well beyond the eight-year statute of repose. The Court of Appeals did not agree and, instead, held that when a statute’s text is clear and unambiguous, the court will apply the plain meaning. Therefore, the court declared that the claims of Southern State were barred under O.C.G.A § 9-3-51(a). HB 968 seeks to negate this court ruling.
The attorneys at Autry, Hall & Cook, LLP will keep following HB 968 and related bills into future legislative sessions and will update our blog readers.