You Cannot Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too! (Estoppel) (law note)

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We’ve talked previously about the statute of limitations here at Construction Law in North Carolina. A recent North Carolina Court of Appeals case gives a vivid example of one exception to a statute of limitations defense – estoppel.

Estoppel is the act of lulling a party into not filing a lawsuit through your actions. You are then deemed “estopped” from asserting the statute of limitations as a defense.

That is, a party cannot use the statute of limitations as a sword to benefit from his own conduct which induced a plaintiff to delay filing suit. Proof of actual fraud or bad faith is not required; however. The “basic question” is whether defendant’s actions “have lulled the plaintiff into a false sense of security and so induced [the plaintiff[ not to institute suit in the requisite time period.” Cleveland Const., Inc. v. Ellis-Don Const., Inc. et al., __ N.C. App. __, __ S.E.2d __ (5 April 2011).

In that case, the general contractor on a public hospital project, Ellis-Don, asked Cleveland Construction Inc. (CCI), one of its subcontractors, to delay making its own delay claim on the project. The general contractor sent a letter to CCI asking it not to sue it in order to present a “unified front” to the State during the State Construction Office’s administrative claims process.

Please see full article below for more information.

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Published In: Civil Procedure Updates, Civil Remedies Updates, General Business Updates, Construction Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Melissa Dewey Brumback, Ragsdale Liggett PLLC | Attorney Advertising

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