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Senate Journal: Page 1516: Thursday, May 3, 2001


  May 3, 2001

  The Honorable Mary Kramer
  President of the Senate
  State Capitol Building
  L O C A L

  Dear President Kramer:

  I hereby disapprove and transfer Senate File 222, an act relating to the
  statute of
  limitations in civil actions arising out of the unsafe or defective
  condition of an
  improvement to real property.

  In 1980, Governor Ray vetoed legislation to establish a statute of repose
  building and construction cases, citing a delicate balance between
  protecting potential
  victims and business interests.  In articulating the rationale for his veto,
  Governor Ray
  commented that "it is the potential and actual harm to an innocent victim
  which I must
  judge against the arguments of the professional persons who would like to be
  against law suits after a limited period of time."

  I share Governor Ray's concerns for protecting potential victims and
  that our legal system must provide these individuals with a forum to seek
  legal relief,
  should they be injured.  Whether it is a neighbor who uses his savings for a
  new roof
  for the family farmhouse that later crumbles due to defective materials or a
  child who
  is injured due to a faulty fire and sprinkler system at his or her school,
  citizens deserve
  an avenue through which they may seek relief for their injuries.
  Unfortunately, I do
  not believe that all such injuries occur neatly within a 10 year window.  I
  again echo
  Governor Ray's sentiments from his veto message when he stated, "I must
  think of
  those to whom circumstance has not yet brought loss of property, health or
  even life
  and who, if that loss occurs, would seek and yet find no avenue of

  Realizing the negative effect this bill may have on many of Iowa's
  homeowners, and businesses, I am unable to approve Senate File 222.  A
  statute of
  repose stipulates the time period during which individuals may bring
  lawsuits for
  certain injuries or damages.  Iowa law currently provides that an individual
  has 15
  years to file suit for injuries or damages incurred due to unsafe or
  improvements to real property.  Senate File 222 would reduce this time
  period from 15
  to 10 years.

  Our legal system, by its design, places the primary burden of proof on the
  seeking relief for an injury or damages.  To restrict further the time
  period during
  which individuals may pursue legal remedies for their damages would place
  consumers and property owners at a heightened disadvantage in their efforts
  to seek
  redress.  It should also be noted that the 10 year time period afforded
  individuals in
  Senate File 222 does not begin once they realize a construction defect or
  incur an
  injury.  Rather, this time period begins from the date that the potential
  commits the act or omission that later causes the injury or damages.  This
  means that
  the clock begins to tick against the injured party even before the injured
  party may
  have realized a problem or suffered an injury.

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