The Indiana Product Liability Act (IPLA) provides injury victims with an avenue for relief against a manufacturer or seller of a defective product, for the physical harm caused by the product. The IPLA defines consumers as a buyer or any individual who uses the product or any reasonable bystander who suffer injuries because of the product. A manufacturer is an individual or entity that creates, assembles, constructs, or otherwise prepares a product or component before the sale to a consumer. The law requires that plaintiffs abide by the strict statute of limitations and repose to avoid dismissal.
Under Indiana law, plaintiffs must commence their product liability actions within two years after the cause of action accrues or within ten years after the delivery of the device to the original user. However, if the claim accrues at least eight years after but less than ten years of delivery, the action may be filed within two years after the claim accrues. There is a specific exception for asbestos-related claims, and plaintiffs will often try and carve out additional exceptions based on case law. However, these exceptions undergo strict analysis and require a thorough understanding of Indiana product liability laws.
For example, recently, the Indiana Supreme Court issued an opinion addressing a plaintiff’s request to apply an additional exception to the statute of repose. In that case, the plaintiff suffered injuries after using a defective machine at work. His employer purchased the product in 2003, which was over ten years before the plaintiff filed his lawsuit. The plaintiff and defendant agreed that the claim was time-barred, but the plaintiff argued that his claim falls within an exception. He cited previous court discussions that addressed instances when a product undergoes a transformation, in effect, creating a new product. The plaintiff contended that courts should determine the statute of limitations from the time a product undergoes a repair, refurbishment, or reconstruction. He reasoned that this transformation would render the product “new,” and as such, the clock should begin running from that time.