Arizona Supreme Court — Time Does Run Against the King

In City of Phoenix v. Glenayre Elecs., Inc., CV-16-0126-PR, 2017 WL 1929472, at *1 (Ariz. May 10, 2017), the Arizona Supreme Court held that the statute of repose in A.R.S. § 12-552(A) applies to government entities and bars certain real property actions, notwithstanding A.R.S. § 12-510’s provision exempting government entities from statutes of limitations.

Under § 12-510 and the nullum tempus doctrine (time does not run against the king), government entities are not “barred by the limitations of actions.”  However, § 12-552(A) states: “Notwithstanding any other statute, no action … based in contract may be instituted or maintained against a person who develops or develops and sells real property, or performs or furnishes the design, specifications, surveying, planning, supervision, testing, construction or observation of construction of an improvement to real property more than eight years after substantial completion of the improvement to real property.”  (Emphasis added).

The court held that § 12-522(A)’s prefatory language was an express declaration by the Legislature that the statute controlled over § 12-510’s general exemption of governmental entities from statutes of limitations.  However, it concluded that the City’s particular indemnification claim against certain land developers was not time barred because it was based on a Phoenix City Code provision, not “based in contract.”

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