Illinois Appellate Court Finds Discovery Rule Takes Place at the Discovery of the Harm — Not When the Defect Was Discovered

Under the discovery rule, does the statute of limitations clock start when the harm is discovered? Or is it when the plaintiff discovers that the harm was “wrongfully caused?” The Illinois Appellate Court, First District, held that the statute of limitations clock starts when the harm is discovered.

During a storm in Chicago with strong winds, a portion of the roof of an auto sales and service business flew off and struck nearby power lines. The plaintiff in this case alleged that the resulting electric surge damaged computers used in a sophisticated metal manufacturing operation.

Years later, M&S Industrial Co. discovered that its neighbor’s roof had been defectively installed, which violated building codes. The company filed a lawsuit. The defendant moved to dismiss the case given that the four-year statute of limitations applicable to claims of construction negligence had expired.

735 ILCS 5/13-214(a).

The trial court’s dismissal of the lawsuit was affirmed by the Illinois Appellate Court. The appeals panel refused to apply the discovery of the rule in a way that let the claim accrue when the plaintiff discovered the construction defect rather than when the incident occurred.

The plaintiff’s claim largely rested on the fact that it found out the damage was “wrongfully caused” at a much later date. The appeals panel responded that plaintiff “should have suspected possible wrongful causation and, at a minimum, should have been compelled to inquire further when its neighbor’s roof uplifted in the wind and hit the power lines, causing damage to its property.”

M&S Industrial Co., Inc. v. Allahverdi, 2018 IL App (1st) 172028.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling product defect lawsuits, catastrophic injury cases, car accident lawsuits, truck crash cases and motorcycle accident cases for individuals, families and loved ones who have been injured, harmed or killed by the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Melrose Park, Maywood, Naperville, New Lenox, Lockport, South Holland, Blue Island, Worth, Alsip, Chicago Heights, Long Grove, Winfield, Vernon Hills, Westmont, North Chicago, Homewood, Highwood, Chicago (Bucktown, Logan Square, Rogers Park, Garfield Park, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, West Loop, South Loop), Clarendon Hills, Wilmette, Evanston, Romeoville, Crystal Lake and Grayslake, Ill.

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