Product Liability -- 2018

Duffy v. CBS Corp.   (Maryland Court of Appeals)

Statute of repose for asbestos cases

The NAM filed an amicus brief concerning a statute of repose for those involved with improvements to real property and an exception for “manufacturers” of asbestos-containing products, exempting them from the protection of repose. The “absolute bar” to a claimant’s legal action established under a statute of repose has been upheld by the vast majority of courts, including challenges based on state constitutions. Legislatures adopt statutes of repose to draw a balance between (1) the interests of the minority of consumers who suffer an injury caused by another; (2) the need for all consumers to have access to affordable goods and services; (3) the need for businesses to operate under fair and predictable liability law rules and (4) the state’s interest in stimulating investment and economic growth. The NAM's brief explained that statutes of repose for improvements to real property, such as the law at issue, represent an important component of a balanced liability system. They provide stability and predictability in the law, fostering construction and economic development. The Maryland Court of Appeals held that the statute of repose does not bar asbestos personal injury claims when the plaintiff’s last exposure to asbestos-containing products occurred before the statute of repose was enacted. Maryland’s tort system should reflect sound public policy and not add indefinite burdens to manufacturers, and this decision contradicts that goal.

Related Documents:
NAM brief  (November 7, 2017)


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