Code of Civil Procedure section 337.15 states in its entirety: "(a) No action may be brought to recover damages from any person, or the surety of a person, who develops real property or performs or furnishes the design, specifications, surveying, planning, supervision, testing, or observation of construction or construction of an improvement to real property more than 10 years after the substantial completion of the development or improvement for any of the following: (1) Any latent deficiency in the design, specification, surveying, planning, supervision, or observation of construction or construction of an improvement to, or survey of, real property. (2) Injury to property, real or personal, arising out of any such latent deficiency. (b) As used in this section, 'latent deficiency' means a deficiency which is not apparent by reasonable inspection. (c) As used in this section, 'action' includes an action for indemnity brought against a person arising out of that person's performance or furnishing of services or materials referred to in this section, except that a cross-complaint for indemnity may be filed pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 428.10 in an action which has been brought within the time period set forth in subdivision (a) of this section. (d) Nothing in this section shall be construed as extending the period prescribed by the laws of this state for bringing any action. (e) The limitation prescribed by this section shall not be asserted by way of defense by any person in actual possession or the control, as owner, tenant or otherwise, of such an improvement, at the time any deficiency in the improvement constitutes the proximate cause for which it is proposed to bring an action. (f) This section shall not apply to actions based on willful misconduct or fraudulent concealment. (g) The 10-year period specified in subdivision (a) shall commence upon substantial completion of the improvement, but not later than the date of one of the following, whichever first occurs: (1) The date of final inspection by the applicable public agency. (2) The date of recordation of a valid notice of completion. (3) The date of use or occupation of the improvement. (4) One year after termination or cessation of work on the improvement. The date of substantial completion shall relate specifically to the performance or furnishing design, specifications, surveying, planning, supervision, testing, observation of construction or construction services by each profession or trade rendering services to the improvement."
In Lantzy v. Centex Homes (2003) 31 Cal.4th 363, a case involving the 10-year statute of limitations in Code of Civil Procedure section 337.15, the California Supreme Court held that equitable tolling was unavailable to toll latent construction defect claims while "promises or attempts to repair" were ongoing. (31 Cal.App.4th at pp. 367, 383.)
The court identified two pertinent aspects in the statutory language. Initially, the court noted that the language of Code of Civil Procedure section 337.15, subdivision (a) which stated that "no action may be brought ..." suggests that the 10-year period of limitations was only subject to extension for the reasons enumerated in the statute. (31 Cal.4th at p. 373.) A second relevant aspect of the statutory language was that Code of Civil Procedure section 337.15 has several express exceptions to its application thus raising the argument of the application of the maxim inclusio unius est exclusio alterius. (31 Cal.4th at p. 373.) Further, the court noted that there was a clearly expressed "general legislative concern about the economic effects of indefinite 'long tail' defect liability" on the construction industry. (Id. at pp. 374-378.) Under these circumstances, the court concluded to permit equitable tolling of the 10-year statute of limitations would undermine this statutory purpose.