Villanova Law Review
products liability, statute of repose, constitutional law, tort reform, open courts, insurance
Constitutional issues arise in regard to many aspects of tort and products liability reform legislation. This article argues that statutes of repose are unconstitutional, with emphasis on open courts or right to remedy (open courts) and equal protection provisions. These issues reflect economic concerns at both federal and state legislative levels that seek to advance strongly perceived public policy. These concerns, in turn, affect substantial substantive rights. Freedom from personal injury, the right to life and safety, reflects more than the mere economic concerns of either the injured party or the product manufacturer. The ability to seek redress for such harm includes a substantive right of considerable magnitude. The influence of these factors could play a significant role in determining the constitutionality of the proposed federal legislation. Posed differently, public policy plays both an express and inherent role in the application of constitutional principles to tort reform legislation. For example, public policy concerns led the Florida Supreme Court to conflicting results as to the validity of a statute of repose. This article will look to state and federal decisions in an effort to comprehensively review the complex constitutional issues raised.
Stephen J. Werber, The Constitutional Dimension of a National Products Liability Statue of Repose, 40 Villanova Law Review 985 (1995)