Wednesday, December 2, 2020
The Pennsylvania Superior Courtroom, the state’s mid-level appellate court docket, just lately held in Kornfeind v. New Werner Holding Co., 2020 PA Tremendous 266, that Pennsylvania’s “borrowing statute” applies solely to overseas statutes of limitation and due to this fact doesn’t require utility of a statute of repose enacted within the state the place the plaintiff used the product and was injured. However the Courtroom additionally held that statutes of repose are substantive underneath Pennsylvania legislation, and due to this fact the statute of repose from the state of use and harm might bar the declare in a Pennsylvania court docket if Pennsylvania’s selection of legislation guidelines help utility of that state’s legislation.
Principal Points Offered within the Attraction
Kornfeind determined an interlocutory attraction from a denial of abstract judgment in a case wherein plaintiff alleged critical accidents brought on by a fall from an extension ladder. He sued New Werner, headquartered in Pennsylvania, because the alleged successor to the ladder producer, which had gone bankrupt and bought its belongings; he additionally sued House Depot because the alleged retailer that bought him the ladder.
There was no dispute that the ladder was manufactured, bought and utilized in Illinois, or that plaintiff was a resident of Illinois and injured there. The events disputed whether or not the ladder was designed in Illinois or Pennsylvania. The events agreed no statute of limitations barred the declare however that it could be premature if the court docket utilized the Illinois statute of repose, which precludes legal responsibility on a product declare greater than 10 years after first sale, lease or supply of possession to the preliminary shopper or consumer.
New Werner argued the Illinois statute of repose ought to be utilized underneath Pennsylvania’s borrowing statute, 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 5521. That statute requires a Pennsylvania court docket to use the “interval of limitation” established both by the legislation of the state the place the declare accrued or by Pennsylvania legislation, “whichever first bars the declare.” New Werner cited Pennsylvania case legislation holding that the aim of the borrowing statute is to stop plaintiffs from different states from suing in Pennsylvania the place their claims could be premature if introduced within the states the place they lived and have been injured.
Evaluation and Resolution
The Courtroom acknowledged that each statutes of limitation and statutes of repose create temporal limitations on the prosecution of claims, and that the language within the borrowing statute, “interval of limitation,” was broad sufficient to embody each. However the Courtroom concluded the borrowing statute was ambiguous as as to if it utilized to statutes of repose, and relied primarily on the quick title of the statute – the “Uniform Statute of Limitations on Overseas Claims Act” – to resolve the paradox and maintain that the borrowing statute applies solely to statutes of limitation, not statutes of repose. The time period “statute of limitations” is a authorized time period of artwork, the Courtroom concluded, due to this fact the title of the statute indicated an intent to borrow solely these statutes.
The Courtroom acknowledged that quite a lot of different states, together with Delaware, California, Illinois, New York, Wisconsin, and Texas, have interpreted their borrowing statutes to use to overseas statutes of repose, however rejected New Werner’s reliance on these choices on the bottom that their borrowing statutes weren’t similar in language to Pennsylvania’s. The Courtroom famous that solely two different states adopted the uniform act; one (West Virginia) has not addressed utility to statutes of repose, and the opposite (Oklahoma) rejected it. The statutory evaluation in Kornfeind might have solely restricted relevance elsewhere, on condition that solely these two different states have adopted the identical particular language of their borrowing statutes, although in states the place the difficulty is unresolved arguments probably shall be made to use Kornfeind to related statutory language.
The Courtroom additionally held that statutes of repose are substantive and never procedural underneath Pennsylvania legislation, due to this fact a statute of repose in impact from the state the place plaintiff was injured would possibly bar his declare in a Pennsylvania court docket if Pennsylvania’s selection of legislation ideas, based mostly on sections 6 and 145 of the Restatement (Second) Battle of Legal guidelines, help utility of the overseas legislation. The Courtroom nonetheless affirmed denial of abstract judgment to New Werner based mostly on an unresolved dispute regarding the place the ladder was designed. As a result of plaintiff’s claims relied primarily on a idea of faulty design, the Courtroom held, this disputed query would possibly have an effect on the selection of legislation ruling, although the Courtroom offered no steerage as to when or how the trial court docket ought to resolve that subject.
Lastly, the Courtroom reversed the trial court docket’s denial of abstract judgment to House Depot. Plaintiff testified he particularly recalled shopping for Werner ladders at House Depot, and that the shop was his “selection 100% for purchasing issues.” He additionally testified he solely ever purchased one extension ladder and that he was “nearly optimistic” he purchased the allegedly faulty ladder there. However he admitted he had no gross sales receipt and no particular reminiscence of the particular buy. Though a few of these information could possibly be seen as supporting an inference that House Depot was the almost definitely vendor, the Courtroom dominated it could be “hypothesis” for a jury to seek out that, so abstract judgment was required.
Implications of the Resolution for Future Instances
Until the Pennsylvania Supreme Courtroom guidelines in a different way on this or one other case, Kornfeind seems to preclude a defendant from invoking a statute of repose from the state the place plaintiff used the product and was injured, underneath Pennsylvania’s borrowing statute – although circumstances elsewhere counsel that in different jurisdictions that argument will succeed.
As for Pennsylvania, the overseas statute of repose nonetheless would possibly apply as substantive legislation underneath selection of legislation guidelines, so Pennsylvania defendants whose legal responsibility could be barred by such a statute should concentrate on making a document of the information that help utility of the opposite state’s substantive legislation. The choice in Kornfeind additionally means that the place there isn’t a documentary proof of the id of the vendor, plaintiff’s recollection of the acquisition, if not clear and sure, is not going to get the declare towards the vendor previous abstract judgment.
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