A Texas product liability lawyer must be very mindful of House Bill (HB) 4, which has preempted the rights of personal injury victims. The purpose of this blog entry is to review some of the major changes associated with HB4 in Texas product liability law.
HB 4 had several major changes. First, it created a presumption of no liability in particular areas. It created a 15 year statute of repose. A statute of repose is similar to a statute of limitations, but usually the deadlines are enforced more strictly . For example, the statute of limitations would be tolled or delayed based on the discovery rule, which states that the clock on bringing a claim does not run until the injury could reasonably have been discovered, A statute of repose would not normally be tolled by the discovery rule. HB4 also created immunity for passive sellers.
The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code (CPRC) codifies these changes, including a presumption of no design or marketing defects in certain areas; a presumption of no marketing defects in specific Texas medical device / pharmaceutical drug injury cases; the creation of the 15 year statute of repose; and the establishment of passive seller immunity.
CPRC 82.008 created a presumption of no liability for the formulation, labeling, or design of a product if the manufacturer or sellers follow mandatory federal regulations / safety standards. If the seller or manufacturer demonstrates that he complied with the mandatory standards or regulations, then the Texas product liability lawyer must overcome a presumption that the manufacturer / seller is not liable for any injury caused by some aspect of the formulation, labeling, or design of the product.
The seller /manufacturer must show that the presumption of no liability is applicable. Keep in mind that the presumption is limited to formulation, labeling, or design. If a Texas citizen claims serious personal injury based on a marketing defect other than the labeling, than the presumption of no liability is not applicable. In addition, the mandatory safety standard or regulation must have been in effect at the time of the manufacture and be applicable to the risk that created harm.
To illustrate, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 207 governs seat back strength. The purpose of this federal law was to protect a passenger from injuries from a seat back failure and certain Texas seat belt injury cases. However, the regulation is not applicable to protect passengers who sustained injuries from a front passenger seat back failure. It is absolutely essential for a Texas personal injury lawyer to engage in a careful analysis of the federal safety standards in order to combat any rebuttable presumptions that may be created by Texas product liability laws.