Booker v. Real Homes, Inc

In Booker v. Real Homes, Inc., 103 S.W.3d 487 (Tex. App.--San Antonio 2003, pet. denied), the Bookers sued their home builder for construction defects, which allegedly caused water to seep into their house. 103 S.W.3d at 490. The Bookers wrote a letter to Real Homes in September 1997 claiming moisture was entering their home and the windows and doors were leaking. Shortly after writing the letter, the Bookers noticed a musty odor inside the house. Real Homes performed repairs on the house from November 1998 through January or February 1999, and the Bookers were told the problem had been fixed. However, in July 1999, the Bookers discovered extensive water damage inside the wall, which eventually led to mold infestation. Id. The Bookers claimed the discovery rule applied and that limitations were tolled until they knew of the exact cause of the leaks. Id. at 492. The court of appeals held the discovery rule did apply, but that it only tolled limitations until the Bookers discovered the leaks because discovery of the leaks was sufficient to put the Bookers on notice of the injury and its general cause. Id. The court concluded the Bookers' claims for negligence and gross negligence accrued, at the latest, when they wrote the letter in September 1997 complaining of leaks in their home. Id. at 492-93. In sum, the plaintiffs hired the defendant to construct their home. Because of construction defects, the windows in the plaintiffs' home began to leak. Id. One year after moving into the house, the plaintiffs wrote a letter to the defendant complaining of several issues in the home, including leaky windows. Id. The plaintiffs had also noticed a musty odor inside the home. Id. The defendant made repairs to the home but the musty smell returned. Id. Three years after moving into the home, the plaintiffs discovered toxic mold in the walls caused by the window leaks. Id. The plaintiffs filed negligence and DTPA claims more than two years after initially contacting the defendant about the leaky windows. Id. The plaintiffs argued that the discovery rule tolled the statute of limitations until they knew the exact cause of the leaks and that their knowledge of the leaks themselves was insufficient to begin the limitations period. Id. at 492. The San Antonio Court of Appeals disagreed, concluding that that "all that is required to commence the running of the limitations period is the discovery of an injury and its general cause, not the exact cause in fact and the specific parties responsible." Id.