Tennessee Law Review
statute of repose, product liability, open courts, preemption
Despite the failure of the 104th Congress to override President Clinton's veto and enact the Common Sense Product Liability Legal Reform Act, there is little doubt that such an Act will be passed by the 105th Congress. Uniform national laws concerning product liability are necessary, can be enacted consistent with Congressional authority, and should be enacted at the earliest possible time. A balanced Act, recognizing the need to protect injured consumers while providing necessary protection to product manufacturers and distributors, can be drafted. Such an Act could include provisions that abolish the consumer expectancy test for design defect litigation, reject the product line exception to successor corporate liability, limit industry-wide liability concepts, impose a substance abuse defense, abolish joint and several liability in a comparative responsibility allocation system, and others which would restore balance to the field. A national product liability act should not contain a statute of repose.This article will address various aspects of a potential statute of repose on the assumptions that (1) its enactment is likely, (2) it will be substantively similar to the provisions of House Bill 956 as approved by the Congress in March 1996, and (3) it will have preemptive effect. For purposes of this article the language of House Bill 956, Section 106, as enrolled, will be utilized.
Stephen J. Werber, A National Product Liability Statute of Repose - Let's Not, 64 Tennessee Law Review 763 (1997)
This article was published originally at 64 Tenn.L.Rev. 763 (1997) and is reproduced here by permission of the Tennesee Law Review Association, Inc. (www.law.utk.edu/publications)