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San Diego Unified Sch. Dist. v. San Diego, County of

Citation: 39 ELR 20014
No. No. D052082, (Cal. App. 4th Dist., 01/20/2009)

A California appellate court reversed a lower court's grant of summary judgment in favor of a county that was sued by a school district for environmental problems and remediation costs incurred on district property due to ongoing effects of an inactive county landfill. The lower court concluded that the landfill, completed in 1967, was an improvement to the district's property. Accordingly, it ruled that all of the district's claims were barred by the 10-year statute of limitations applicable to latent construction defects under California Code of Civil Procedure §337.15. But the district's claims are not based on defective construction, design, or operation of the landfill. Rather, the district is seeking monetary reimbursement of costs it incurred complying with environmental regulations. Its breach of contract claim is based on the language of the lease between the parties and their 1999 "sharing agreement," which they entered into for allocation of their expenses for environmental regulatory compliances. It also relies on claims of statutory duties that the county has violated distinct from construction defect allegations. In addition, other noncontractual causes of action by the district, such as nuisance and trespass, are not subject to the bar of §337.15. And triable issues of fact remain on alternative grounds on which the county sought summary judgment.