Submitted, September 10, 2014
Appeal from United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa - Cedar Rapids.
For Cedar Rapids Lodge & Suites, LLC, Plaintiff - Appellant: Robert Harrex Miller, Brian David Thomas, SHEEHAN & PHINNEY, Manchester, NH; Kevin James Visser, SIMMONS & PERRINE, Cedar Rapids, IA.
For Lightowler Johnson Associates, Inc., Defendant - Appellee: Kevin J. Caster, Dana L. Oxley, SHUTTLEWORTH & INGERSOLL, Cedar Rapids, IA.
Before BYE, COLLOTON, and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges.
COLLOTON, Circuit Judge.
Cedar Rapids Lodge and Suites, LLC appeals from the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Lightowler Johnson Associates, Inc., a North Dakota architectural firm. Cedar Rapids Lodge and Suites sued Lightowler alleging professional negligence in connection with the design of a hotel, and the district court ruled that the claim was barred by the statute of limitations. We affirm.
In 2003, John Seibert, Mark Gabrielson, and Ted Vosburg, governors of Cedar Rapids Lodge & Suites, obtained the rights to build an AmericInn franchise in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Cedar Rapids Lodge & Suites used Lightowler as the architect for the new project. Lightowler sent Siebert a standard form agreement that included a choice-of-law provision specifying that its terms would be governed by the law of North Dakota.
Lightowler provided a full set of plans for the project on November 7, 2003. On November 20, 2003, Lightowler issued an addendum containing several changes to the plans requested by the Cedar Rapids Fire Marshal. The next day, AmericInn project manager Shawn Lidberg sent a letter to Siebert, with a copy to Lightowler, listing problems with the plans' compliance with franchise standards. On January 7, 2004, the city sent Cedar Rapids Lodge & Suites a report seeking revisions to the architectural plans; the company forwarded the report to Lightowler. In response, Lightowler submitted revised plans on February 27, 2004.
Construction began in January 2004. On July 26, 2004, Lidberg of AmericInn led a construction site visit attended by Siebert, Gabrielson, and Vosburg of Cedar Rapids Lodge & Suites, various AmericInn representatives, and Tim Olson, a Lightowler engineer. Both Lidberg and Olson prepared reports detailing the design and construction deficiencies they observed during the site visit. They provided these reports to Siebert shortly thereafter. The last act performed by Lightowler on the hotel project was the transmission of a document to the contractor on September 24, 2004, responding to a question about plank cuts in the stairwells.
Lidberg of AmericInn led a second site visit on October 21, 2004. Neither Siebert from Cedar Rapids Lodge & Suites nor anyone from Lightowler attended. Lidberg produced a report identifying additional deficiencies and construction concerns, and sent it to Siebert and Lightowler. On November 1, 2004, Lightowler's Steve Goldade sent a letter to ...