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Thomas v. Capano Homes Inc.

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

April 2, 2015

ROBERT AND ANN THOMAS, Plaintiffs,
v.
CAPANO HOMES INC, Defendant.

Submitted: January 7, 2015

Upon Defendant Capano Homes Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss: DENIED.

Blake A. Bennett, Esquire, and Christopher H. Lee, Esquire, Cooch & Taylor P.A., Attorneys for Plaintiffs.

Jeffrey M. Weiner, Esquire, Attorney for Defendant.

OPINION

Jan R. Jurden, President Judge

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is Defendant Capano Homes Inc.'s ("Capano") Motion to Dismiss. This case involves claims by the owners of a single family home against the builder of that home. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is DENIED.

II. FACTS

On February 5, 1998, Plaintiffs Robert and Ann Thomas ("Plaintiffs") purchased a single family home from the original owner.[1] The original owner purchased the property directly from Capano, the general contractor.[2] In 2014, Plaintiffs learned of several instances of water infiltration affecting similar homes with stucco facades.[3] Thereafter, Plaintiffs hired a qualified expert to inspect their home for water infiltration.[4] In August 2014, that expert determined "that the Property suffers from serious, but hidden, design and construction defects that have resulted and will result in severe water and moisture penetration, deterioration, unattractiveness, loss of marketability and market value, structural and physical instability, and other dangerous conditions."[5]

Plaintiffs filed a Complaint against Capano on November 7, 2014, asserting a claim of negligent construction.

III. PARTIES' CONTENTIONS

Capano filed this Motion to Dismiss arguing that the Complaint must be dismissed under Superior Court Civil Rule 12(b)(6) because it is time-barred.[6]According to Capano, Plaintiffs cannot rely on the Time of Discovery Rule to toll the statute of limitations because problems with stucco in residential construction have been well documented for many years prior to November 2014.[7] Thus, Plaintiffs ignored the existence of facts sufficient to put a person of ordinary intelligence and prudence on inquiry, which if pursued, would lead to the discovery of such facts.[8]

In opposition, Plaintiffs assert that the Complaint is timely because the Complaint was filed in November 2014, promptly after they learned of the construction defects from their home inspection expert in August 2014.[9] Plaintiffs contend that they were not aware, nor should they have been aware, of any hidden construction defects in their home prior to 2014 because "most homebuyers are not construction ...


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