Ohio Upholds Ten Year Product Liability Statute Of Repose

February 26, 2008

On February 21, 2008, the Ohio Supreme Court provided a significant victory to manufacturers by upholding the constitutionality of a ten year statute of repose to product liability claims.  SeeGroch v. General Motors Corp., 2008-Ohio-546 (Ohio 2008).  Ohio law now eliminates all product liability claims if suit is not filed within ten years after a manufacturer or supplier delivers a product to an end user.  See Ohio Rev. Code 2305.10.

This decision is significant because it signals yet another in a string of recent decisions by the Ohio Supreme Court upholding tort reform.  In the past year, the Ohio Supreme Court has upheld damage caps on noneconomic and punitive damages, Arbino v. Johnson & Johnson, 2007 Ohio 6948 (Ohio Dec. 27, 2007); has provided asbestos defendants with a direct appeal from a trial court’s threshold determination of medical impairment, Sinnott v. Aqua-Chem, Inc., 876 N.E.2d 1217 (Ohio 2007); and has required plaintiffs to provide expert testimony on both general and specific causation before proceeding upon a toxic tort claim, Terry v. Caputo, 875 N.E.2d 72 (Ohio 2007).  The Ohio Supreme Court also is presently considering whether new asbestos medical criteria apply retroactively to pending claims in a decision that could effectively shut down the Ohio asbestos docket for all but malignancy case.  Ackison v. Anchor Packing Co., 864 N.E.2d 652 (Ohio 2007).

The Groch v. General Motors Corp., 2008-Ohio-546 (Ohio 2008) concerned a worker injured by a trim press that crushed his arm and wrist.  The worker sued the manufacturer, who raised the statute of repose defense.  In upholding the defense, the Groh Court held that the statute did not unconstitutionally deny the plaintiff a remedy and it refused to follow earlier decisions that struck down other types of repose statutes.  In this regard, the Ohio Supreme Court reiterated its deference to the legislature as “the ultimate arbiter of public policy.”

Manufacturers or suppliers of products alleged to be defective now cannot be sued for injuries which occur more than ten years after the product is delivered.  Ohio continues to become a much more friendly jurisdiction to these defendants.

Should you have any questions on this or other tort reform issues, please feel free to contact any of the attorneys in our Product Liability group. 

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