SB 7 sets a statute of repose barring claims 15 years after purchaseThe bill sets a statute of repose that would bar filing claims for personal injury, property damage, wrongful death, or economic loss against a manufacturer 15 years after a product or service was purchased. The time limit would not apply if it is determined manufacturers knowingly concealed defects or negligence. Also exempt are cases involving a government-issued recall or where a product causes latent diseases. Statutes of repose are similar to statutes of limitation but feature key differences that can vary from state to state. Statutes of limitation govern the time in which a lawsuit may be filed after a cause of action. Every state has such statutes, which generally range from one to six years. Missourians have five years to file product liability lawsuits. Statutes of repose timelines begin when the manufacturer took the action that led to the lawsuit, often years before a claim is filed. In addition, they do not recognize discovery rules, meaning claims are more easily dismissed.
Missouri among five states currently with a 12-year statute of reposeOf the 19 states with product liability statutes of repose, Missouri is one of five that fix it at 12 years. If SB 7 is adopted, it will join Iowa, Texas, and Wisconsin with the longest statutes of repose at 15 years. There are significant exceptions built into the bill, including a provision that it not apply to any real property or improvement to real property. While defective products and unsafe conditions “knowingly concealed” are not shielded from liability or the 15-year deadline, it must be proven the “knowingly concealed” actions directly resulted in the alleged damages that engendered the lawsuit, under the bill. SB 7 also exempts claims filed after 15 years for any product other than those cited by manufacturers or sellers in written warranties or public advertisements to have an “expected useful life” exceeding 15 years. The measure cuts off those claims two years after a stated “expected useful life” expires. An amendment proposed by Sen. Jill Schupp (D-Creve Coeur) to exempt products without clear expiration dates “to not only make things fair for the business but also fair for the consumer” will be considered when SB 7 is presented for a floor vote. Reporting by John Haughey
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