Last week, Foley published a summary of
15-Year Limitation on Strict Liability
The new law provides that strict liability actions against manufacturers, distributors, and/or retailers of a product (that is, those not based on negligence or breach of warranty) generally may not be filed more than 15 years after the product was manufactured. However, an important exception is entirely within the manufacturer’s control. If the manufacturer represented that the product will last more than 15 years (which would include representations in a contract and likely also include less formal representations in ads or correspondence), then the 15-year limit does not apply.
Protection for Distributors and Retailers That Buy in Sealed Containers
Subject to an exception referred to in the following paragraph, the new law provides that distributors or retailers that receive products in sealed containers and have no reasonable opportunity to inspect or test them are not liable on strict liability claims. From the perspective of distributors and retailers in Wisconsin, it will therefore be beneficial for their distributorship contracts with suppliers to include provisions contemplating that all products being resold are to be shipped to the distributors or retailers in sealed containers, that the distributors or retailers may return any product not so received, that the distributors or retailers are prohibited from opening the containers, and so forth. Including such provisions are not disadvantageous to suppliers.
Protection for Distributors and Retailers That Buy from Manufacturers Subject to the Jurisdiction of
Distributors and retailers that are not manufacturers must generally be dismissed as defendants as to any strict liability claim, if the manufacturer has submitted itself to jurisdiction in
The pertinent provisions of the new tort law include certain drafting anomalies, creating ambiguities that will not likely be resolved until there has been a significant volume of litigation interpreting those provisions.
Legal News Alert is part of our ongoing commitment to providing up-to-the-minute information about pressing concerns or industry issues affecting our clients and colleagues. If you have any questions about this update or would like to discuss this topic further, please contact your Foley attorney or the following: