Burton Craige has written an article, entitled Reforming and Clarifying the Products Liability Statute of Repose, for an issue of Trial Briefs, the publication of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice. The article discusses possible reform of the time-limit law for lawsuits about defective products that injure people.
Summary: If Elaine had lived anywhere else in the United States, she could have brought suit against the SUV manufacturer. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have no statute of repose for products liability actions. Four states establish a presumptive ten- or twelve-year statute of repose that can be rebutted by evidence that the “useful safe life” of the product is longer or shorter. Two states establish a rebuttable presumption of no negligence if the product was first sold more than a certain period of time before the injury. Ten states have a fixed statute of repose that is significantly longer than North Carolina’s, ranging from ten to fifteen years. That leaves North Carolina as the lonely outlier. Saddled with an inflexible six-year statute of repose, North Carolinians have less protection against defective products than any other United States citizens.