The Fourth District Court of Appeals in Florida has reversed a circuit court’s dismissal of an Argentinian aircraft owner’s breach of contract action against Signature Flight Support. In Medical Jet v. Signature Flight Support-Palm Beach, Medical Jet alleged that Signature had represented that it could work on the Argentinian aircraft owner’s aircraft and that it had a current certification from Argentina’s national aircraft regulatory authority, the Direccion Nacional de Aeronavetabilidad (“DNA”). After Signature completed its inspection and repair of the aircraft, it returned the aircraft to Medical Jet on April 23, 1998, and Medical Jet subsequently flew it back to Argentina. On May 14, 1999, the aircraft failed to pass its annual inspection because Signature had not had a current DNA certification when it inspected and repaired the aircraft. The aircraft was then grounded.
On August 28, 2003 Medical Jet filed its complaint and on July 14, 2004 it filed its amended complaint. Signature moved to dismiss the amended complaint arguing that it was time barred by the 5-year statute of limitations for contract claims. The circuit court denied the motion to dismiss but then granted Signature’s motion for judgment on the pleadings based upon the same argument. Medical Jet then appealed.
On appeal, the Court held that the statute of limitations did not bar Medical Jet’s claims because its action did not accrue until May 14, 1999 when the aircraft was grounded. The Court stated that “[i]n an action for breach of contract, the action accrues when the last element giving rise to the cause of action takes place” and “[h]ad the plane never been grounded by the DNA, the plaintiff would not have sustained any damage. Thus, the actual breach, the defendant’s failure to have certification at the time it inspected and repaired the aircraft, could not be the accrual date for the cause of action.”
The Court reversed the circuit court and remanded the case for further proceedings. However, since the decision was issued on April 24, 2006, the time within which to appeal this decision has not yet run. Thus, the court of appeal’s decision is not yet final. However, if the decision is not appealed, the case will go back to the circuit court for trial.