The development of products liability law has followed an arduous course, especially during the past 70 years.' Many serious problems have arisen out of consumer attempts to obtain redress from manufacturers of defective products. Many of these problems have been resolved, but the problem of selecting and applying the appropriate statute of limitations persists, causing confusion among jurists, legislators, and practitioners and yielding inconsistent and inequitable results. A hypothetical will illustrate the problem and provide a factual context within which the problem may be discussed.
In 1970, Plaintiff is injured and his home destroyed when a gas water heater explodes. The heater was installed when the house was built in 1966. Plaintiff institutes suit against Defendant, the manufacturer of the heater, in 1971. Plaintiff seeks damages for personal injury and property damage, alleging alternatively these causes of action: negligence; breach of implied warranty; breach of sales warranties provided in the Uniform Commercial Code; and strict liability in tort. The court must decide which statute of limitations--tort, oral contract, or Uniform Commercial Code--should be applied to each cause of action and then select the time at which the statute began to run. These two choices, the appropriate statute and the date on which it begins to run, are the topic of this Note. As situations similar to the hypothetical have confronted the courts with increasing frequency during the past decade, courts and legislatures have taken distinctive approaches and have reached different results in attempting to find solutions to the statute of limitations problems. This Note analyzes in historical perspective the different decisions which have been reached, thus providing a context within which conclusions can be drawn and suggested solutions presented.
Larry T. Thrailkill,
Statutes of Limitations: Their Selection and Application in Products Liability Cases,
23 Vanderbilt Law Review
Available at: https://scholarship.law.vanderbilt.edu/vlr/vol23/iss4/5