Suing commercial contractors in Iowa is not any more difficult than it used to be. Iowa legislative session is wrapping up, it appears a proposed law to protect Iowa’s commercial builders from additional litigation is not going to become a law. HF 2094 was passed by the House but did not make its way through the Senate. The bill would have made it more difficult to sue Iowa’s contractors and other professionals who provide services on new non-residential construction projects. More specifically, HF 2094 would have reduced Iowa’s Statute of Repose (the period within which a lawsuit must be filed) relative to claims arising from commercial construction projects from 15 years to 10 years. A copy of HF 2094 can be found here.
I believe this proposed legislation is good for Iowa for various reasons, and it will likely rear its head during next year’s legislative session. Iowa’s 15-year Statute of Repose is one of the longest Statutes of Repose in the United States. Most states have 4 to 10 year Statutes of Repose; many are in the 4 to 6 year range. As a construction attorney and litigator, I believe Iowa’s Statute of Repose is too long and leads to, among other things, higher insurance premiums and higher construction costs. In addition, a supermajority of claims related to the construction and design of commercial projects arise in the first five years after a project is finished, while disputes become more difficult to litigate after 15 years due to, among other things, lost witnesses and fading memories. A 10-year Statute of Repose would strike a fair and reasonable balance between the practical realities of construction and the interests of Iowa’s contractors, design professionals and other construction-related professionals.