Individual States 

MINNESOTA

ASSUMPTION OF RISK

Assumption of risk may be recognized, as a question of law by the court, as a bar to recovery in a product liability action. Cambern v. Sioux Tools, Inc., 323 N.W.2d 795 (Minn. 1982) .

CAPS ON NONECONOMIC DAMAGES

There are no exclusive Products Liability statutes under this category.

COLLATERAL SOURCE RULE

A party may file a motion within ten days of the verdict requesting determination of collateral sources. The court determines what collateral sources are available to the plaintiff as a result of the losses, except those for which a subrogation right has been asserted, and the amount paid for the benefit in the two year period before the accrual of the action. The court shall accordingly reduce the award. The jury shall not be informed of collateral sources. Minn. Stat. Ann. §548.36 .

COMPARATIVE FAULT

A claimant is not barred from recovery as long as his fault is not greater than the fault of the defendant. Instead the damages are diminished proportionately. Minn. Stat. Ann. §604.01 .

Intentional tort actions are not subject to the comparative fault statute. Kelzer v. Wachholz, 381 N.W.2d 852, (Minn. App.1986) .

ECONOMIC LOSS

The Minnesota State Legislature has codified the economic loss doctrine which provides that, while economic loss that arises from a sale of goods that is due to damage to tangible property other than the goods sold may be recovered in tort as well as in contract, economic loss that arises from a sale of goods between merchants is not recoverable in tort. Further, economic loss due to damage to the goods themselves is not recoverable. Section 604.10 does not apply to tort causes of action based upon fraud or fraudulent or intentional misrepresentation. Minn. Stat. Ann. §604.10 .

In 2000, the legislature further refined the economic loss doctrine by enacting a statute governing all claims by a buyer against a seller occurring on or after August 1, 2000, by which a buyer may not bring a product defect tort claim against a seller for compensatory damages, unless a defect in the goods sold or leased caused harm to the buyer's tangible personal property other than the goods or to the buyer's real property. Minn. Stat. Ann. §604.101 .

JOINT & SEVERAL LIABILITY

In the case of a claim arising from the manufacture, sale, use or consumption of a product, an amount uncollectible from any person in the chain of manufacture and distribution shall be reallocated among all other persons in the chain of manufacture and distribution, but not among the claimant or others at fault who are not in the chain of manufacture or distribution of the product. Provided, however, that a person whose fault is less than that of a claimant is liable to the claimant only for that portion of the judgment which represents the percentage of fault attributable to the person whose fault is less. Minn. Stat. Ann. §604.02 .

PUNITIVE DAMAGES

Punitive damages are available in a product liability action where a plaintiff suffers personal injury. The standard is "clear and convincing" evidence of "deliberate disregard for the rights or safety of others." If requested by any party, the court shall order bifurcated trials in which financial condition of defendant is only admissible to determine punitive award. Minn. Stat. Ann. §549.20 .

Prima facie evidence must support motion to amend the complaint to include punitive damages. Minn. Stat. Ann. §549.191 .

Punitive damages are allowed in wrongful death actions. Minn. Stat. Ann. §573.02 .

RIGHT TO CONTRIBUTION

When two or more persons are severally liable, contributions to awards shall be in proportion to the percentage of fault attributable to each, except that the following persons are jointly and severally liable for the whole award: (1) a person whose fault is greater than 50 percent; (2) two or more persons who act in a common scheme or plan that results in injury; (3) a person who commits an intentional tort. Upon motion made not later than one year after judgment is entered, the court shall determine whether all or part of a party's equitable share of the obligation is uncollectible from that party and shall reallocate any uncollectible amount among the other parties, including a claimant at fault, according to their respective percentages of fault. A party whose liability is reallocated is nonetheless subject to contribution and to any continuing liability to the claimant on the judgment. Minn. Stat. Ann. §604.02 .

Minnesota provides for a nonparty defense. Under Minnesota law, a jury must consider an immune party's negligence even if that party is not a party to the suit. Johnson v. Niagara Mach. & Tool Works, 666 F.2d 1223 (8th Cir.1981) .

SPECIAL DEFENSES

A manufacturer is not liable for defects that develop after the product leaves the manufacturer's control. Huber v. Niagara Machine & Tool Works, 430 N.W.2d 465, (Minn. 1988) .

STATUTES OF LIMITATION

Any action based on the strict liability of the defendant and arising from the manufacture, sale, use or consumption of a product shall be commenced within four years. Minn. Stat. Ann. §541.05 subd. 2 .

A cause of action for negligence resulting in personal injury or damage to property must be brought within six years after the cause of action accrues. Minn. Stat. Ann. §§541.07, 541.05 .

Actions for wrongful death, except where it is an intentional act constituting murder, must be brought within three years from death, but not more than six years after act. Minn. Stat. Ann. §573.02 .

Actions for breach of warranty must be brought within four years. Minn. Stat. Ann. §336.2-725 .

STATUTES OF REPOSE

In any action for the recovery of damages for personal injury, death or property damage arising out of the manufacture, sale, use or consumption of a product, it is a defense to a claim against a designer, manufacturer, distributor or seller of the product or a part thereof, that the injury was sustained following the expiration of the ordinary useful life of the product. Minn. Stat. Ann. §604.03 .

STRUCTURED SETTLEMENT

Where claimant is awarded future damages over $100,000, the court shall hold a hearing to determine if structured payment is in the best interest of claimant. Minn. Stat. Ann. §549.25 .