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139350 - Colaianni v Stuart Frankel Development Corp

Connie Colaianni,
Gene S. Davis
Dodd B. Fisher
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
(Oakland – Sosnick, E.)
Stuart Frankel Development Corporation, Inc., and K-F Land Company, LLC IV,
Deborah A. Hebert


​Connie Colaianni worked in a customer service department call center. In April 1998, the call center moved to a building owned by K-F Land Company and managed by Stuart Frankel Development Corporation. Colaianni began to suffer from various health problems, and she sought medical treatment. Due to her medical problems, she missed significant time from work; her symptoms would worsen when she returned to work. In August 2002, Colaianni’s physician told her that she had elevated antigen levels to toxic molds. In 2003, Colaianni sued K-F Land and Stuart Frankel Development, alleging that toxic mold contamination in the building caused her to suffer significant health problems. The defendants filed a motion for summary disposition, asking the court to dismiss Colaianni’s claim. The defendants argued that Colaianni was aware of all of the elements of her cause of action by at least 1999, and that the three-year limitations period expired before she filed her lawsuit. Colaianni argued in response that the common-law discovery rule applied to toll the statute of limitations, and that she filed her lawsuit soon after discovering the cause of her illness.


The trial court initially denied the defendants’ motion for summary disposition. The court explained, “There is evidence that the plaintiff and her co-workers suspected that there was an air quality problem shortly after they began working there. However, the plaintiff was treating with a physician and seeing other physicians in an attempt to find the cause and cure for her condition. It was not until 2003 that a physician was able to conclude that it was caused by her workplace environment.” The court held that Colaianni could not have reasonably discovered her claim before her condition was diagnosed. But, after the trial court issued its ruling, the Supreme Court decided Trentadue v Buckler Automatic Lawn Sprinkler Co, 479 Mich 378 (2007), rejecting that plaintiff’s argument that the common-law discovery rule controlled the accrual of her claims of negligence. In Trentadue, the Supreme Court held that the statutory scheme establishing limitation periods “is exclusive and thus precludes [the] common-law practice of tolling accrual based on discovery in cases where none of the statutory tolling provisions apply.” The defendants in Colaianni’s case renewed their motion for summary disposition, and the trial court granted it based on Trentadue. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling in an unpublished per curiam opinion, applying Trentadue and concluding that Colaianni’s lawsuit was untimely. Colaianni appeals.