United States District Court, D. South Carolina
ORDER AND OPINION
Richard M. Gergef United States District Court Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant Chapman Coyle Chapman
& Associates Architects AIA, Inc.'s Motion for
Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 138) and Defendant Choate
Construction Company's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt.
No. 144). For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants
in part and denies in part the motions.
Chapman Coyle Chapman & Associates Architects, AIA
("Chapman Coyle") was responsible for the design
and oversight of the construction of amenity facilities for
Plaintiff Hampton Hall LLC, including a golf clubhouse,
fitness center,  and community clubhouse. (Dkt. No. 34 at
¶ 3.) Defendant Choate Construction Company
("Choate") was the general contractor. (Dkt. No. 34
at ¶ 7.) In January 16, 2009, David W. Smith, an
attorney from the Toll Brothers, Inc.'s ("Toll
Brothers") General Counsel's office, wrote a letter
to Choate complaining of "a number of water leaks"
in the community clubhouse at Hampton Hall. (Dkt. No. 138-5.)
The letter asserted that Choate was "responsible for
the damage" and that Toll Brothers had a
"formal claim" arising for the issue. Notably, Mr.
Smith wrote that they anticipated claims for "breach of
contract and negligence...." (Id.) While Toll
Brothers is not a formal party in this case, an affiliate of
Toll Brothers, Toll SC, L.P., is part of the joint venture
that ultimately changed its name to Hampton Hall, LLC, the
Plaintiff here. (Dkt. Nos. 138-2 at 30; 138-3.) Defendant
Choate responded to the letter on January 26, 2009, including
an itemized summary of the water damage discovered and
detailing remedial action. (Dkt. No. 138-6.)
attorney for Toll Brothers, David A. Larkin, contacted Choate
again on March 29, 2012. The letter claimed that there had
been "numerous water intrusion issues" at
"Club facilities" and asserted that the letter did
not "waive any rights and remedies available to us"
based in contract, law or equity. (Dkt. No. 138-7.) Choate
replied on April 4, 2012, again disclaiming any
responsibility, though noting that they saw that an
"entire wall" of the golf clubhouse had been
removed and replaced. (Id.) However, the letter
stated that it was unclear what the "cause" of the
damage was and they assumed it was "not due to water
intrusion from above." (Id.) Choate offered to
discuss the issues further. Additionally, Defendant Chapman
submitted invoices showing that the Plaintiff paid third
party contractors to repair the community clubhouse, golf
clubhouse and fitness center during the same period. (Dkt.
No. 138-9.) Repairs on the golf clubhouse occurred from June
7, 2010, to August 8, 2013, and repairs on the community
clubhouse occurred from August 24, 2011, to December 16,
2013. (Dkt. No. 138-9.)
filed the present action on May 12, 2017, alleging defective
construction and asserting claims for breach of contract,
negligence, gross negligence, and breach of express and
implied warranties. (Dkt. No. 1-1.) Plaintiff amended the
complaint on January 30, 2018, adding a claim for contractual
indemnity and additional factual allegations. (Dkt. No. 34.)
On February 14, 2018, Choate filed a third-party complaint
against several of its subcontractors involved with the
construction at issue. (Dkt. No. 38.)
Chapman Coyle and Choate now move for summary judgment
arguing that the case is barred by a three year statute of
limitations. (Dkt. Nos. 138, 144.) Defendants argue that
Plaintiff Hampton Hall was aware of their causes of action
related to the community clubhouse, golf clubhouse and
fitness center far more than three years prior to the filing
of the Complaint. Plaintiff opposes Defendant Chapman
Coyle's motion for summary judgment, arguing that they
were unaware of the specific causes of action until more
recently. (Dkt. No. 145.)
judgment is appropriate if a party "shows that there is
no genuine dispute as to any material fact" and that the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In other words, summary judgment should
be granted "only when it is clear that there is no
dispute concerning either the facts of the controversy or the
inferences to be drawn from those facts." Pulliam
Inv. Co. v. Cameo Props., 810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir.
1987). "In determining whether a genuine issue has been
raised, the court must construe all inferences and
ambiguities in favor of the nonmoving party."
HealthSouth Rehab. Hosp. v. Am. Nat'l Red Cross,
101 F.3d 1005, 1008 (4th Cir. 1996). The party seeking
summary judgment shoulders the initial burden of
demonstrating to the court that there is no genuine issue of
material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
the moving party has made this threshold demonstration, the
non-moving party, to survive the motion for summary judgment,
may not rest on the allegations averred in his pleadings.
Id. at 324. Rather, the non-moving party must
demonstrate that specific, material facts exist that give
rise to a genuine issue. Id. Under this standard,
"[c]onclusory or speculative allegations do not suffice,
nor does a 'mere scintilla of evidence'" in
support of the non-moving party's case. Thompson v.
Potomac Elec. Power Co., 312 F.3d 645, 649 (4th Cir.
2002) (quoting Phillips v. CSX Tramp., Inc., 190
F.3d 285, 287 (4th Cir. 1999))
Carolina law governs the Plaintiffs claims in this case. The
parties agree that Plaintiffs claims are subject to South
Carolina's three year statute of limitations, as set
forth in S.C. Code Ann. § 15-3-530. (Dkt.Nos. 138-1 at
4; 145 at 6.) However, under "the discovery rule, the
statute of limitations only begins to run from the date the
injured party either knows or should know, by the exercise of
reasonable diligence, that a cause of action exists for the
wrongful conduct." True v. Monteith, 327 S.C.
116, 489 S.E.2d 615, 616 (1997). Under South Carolina law,
the "exercise of reasonable diligence" requires
that the injured party "act with some promptness where
the facts and circumstances of an injury place a reasonable
person of common knowledge and experience on notice that a
claim against another party might exist." Dean v.
Ruscon Corp., 321 S.C. 360, 468 S.E.2d 645, 647 (1996).
The date on which the discovery of a cause of action should
have been made is an objective question Bayle v. S.
Carolina Dep 't of Tramp., 344 S.C. 115, 542 S.E.2d
736, 740 (2001). Therefore, to the extent that there is no
conflicting evidence regarding whether a claimant should have
known that a cause of action existed, resolution of the
question is appropriate at summary judgment. See Moriarty
v. Garden Sanctuary Church of God, 341 S.C. 320, 338 -
causes of action relate to the three separate facilities, the
community clubhouse, golf clubhouse and fitness center, and
the facts related to potential discovery is different for
each. Therefore, the Court discusses each separately