§63.14 Statute of Repose

The Case: Penley v. Honda Motor Co., 31 S.W.3d 181 (Tenn. 2000).

The Basic Facts: Plaintiff was the rider of an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) that flipped over when Plaintiff was riding it on a trail. Plaintiff was severely injured and brought a products liability action against Defendant manufacturer.

The Bottom Line:

  • "[Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-28-103]. Limitation of actions - Exceptions.
    (a) Any action against a manufacturer or seller of a product for injury to person or property caused by its defective or unreasonably dangerous condition must be brought within the period fixed by [sections] 28‑3‑104, 28‑3‑105, 28‑3‑202 and 47‑2‑725, but notwithstanding any exceptions to these provisions it must be brought within six (6) years of the date of injury, in any event, the action must be brought within ten (10) years from the date on which the product was first purchased for use or consumption, or within one (1) year after the expiration of the anticipated life of the product, whichever is the shorter, except in the case of injury to minors whose action must be brought within a period of one (1) year after attaining the age of majority, whichever occurs sooner.

    (b) The foregoing limitation of actions shall not apply to any action resulting from exposure to asbestos or to the human implantation of silicone gel breast implants.

    (c)(1) Any action against a manufacturer or seller for injury to a person caused by a silicone gel breast implant must be brought within a period not to exceed twenty‑five (25) years from the date such product was implanted; provided, that such action must be brought within four (4) years from the date the plaintiff knew or should have known of the injury.
    Tenn. Code Ann. § 29‑28‑103(a)-(c)(1) (1980 & Supp. 1999) (emphasis added)." 31 S.W.3d at 184.
  • "Statutes of repose operate differently than statutes of limitation, primarily because statutes of repose typically begin to run with the happening of some event unrelated to the traditional accrual of the plaintiff's cause of action." Id.
  • "28‑1‑106. Persons under disability on accrual of right. -

    If the person entitled to commence an action is, at the time the cause of action accrued, either within the age of eighteen (18) years, or of unsound mind, such person, or his representatives and privies, as the case may be, may commence the action, after the removal of such disability, within the time of limitation for the particular cause of action, unless it exceed three (3) years, and in that case within three (3) years from the removal of such disability."
    Id . at 186.
  • "We hold that the ten-year statute of repose in Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-28-103(a) is not tolled during any period of the plaintiff's mental incompetency. The language of section 29-28-103(a) admits of no exception other than those expressly listed, the policies underlying the products liability statute of repose are not furthered by an implied exception for mental incompetency, and the legal disability statute does not operate to toll an otherwise applicable statute of repose." Id. at 189.

Other Sources of Note: Calaway ex rel. Calaway v. Schucker, 193 S.W.3d 509 (Tenn. 2005) (holding that the three-year statute of repose under TCA § 29-26-116 for medical malpractice actions is not tolled during a plaintiff's minority).

Recent Cases: 

Adams v. Air Liquide America, L.P., No. M2013-02607-COA-R3-CV, 2014 WL 6680693 (Tenn. Ct. App. Nov. 25, 2014) (Court upheld constitutionality of both ten-year statute of repose under TPLA and exceptions thereunder for asbestos and silicone gel breast implants; Court rejected plaintiff’s argument that his silica-related injuries should be treated the same as the above-stated exceptions because all had long latency periods).

Maino v. Southern Co., Inc. , 253 S.W.3d 646 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2007) (holding that the savings statute applies to save a products liability action where the statute of repose expired during one-year savings period after a non-suit).

After an accident, many injury victims and their families want more information on the accident and their legal rights. Consequently, many of them have found their way to these pages. While we are happy you are here, please understand Day on Torts: Leading Cases in Tennessee Tort Law was written to be a quick, invaluable reference for Tennessee tort lawyers. While the book provides the leading case for more than 300 tort law subjects and thousands of related case citations, it is not a substitute for personalized legal advice from a qualified lawyer.

Rather than researching these legal issues alone, we urge you to contact one of our award-winning lawyers who can sit down with you, review your case, answer your questions and clearly explain your rights and your options in a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced attorneys handle all personal injury and wrongful death cases on a contingency basis, so we only get paid if we win. If for any reason you are unable to come to our office, we will gladly come to you.

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The foregoing is an excerpt from Day on Torts: Leading Cases in Tennessee Tort Law, published by John A. Day, Civil Trial Specialist, Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, recipient of Best Lawyers in America recognition, Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent™ rated attorney, and Top 100 Tennessee Mid-South Super Lawyers designee. Read John’s full bio here.

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