Individual States 

IOWA

ASSUMPTION OF RISK

Implied assumption of risk is abolished as a separate defense, does not bar recovery, and is part of the comparative fault. Iowa Code Ann. §668.1 .

CAPS ON NONECONOMIC DAMAGES

There are no exclusive Products Liability statutes under this category.

COLLATERAL SOURCE RULE

In a personal injury action, the court shall permit evidence and argument, and reduce the judgment by the amount of any previous payment or future right to payment for actual economic loss for medical care, rehabilitation services, and custodial care, as well as any rights to indemnification or subrogation. However, such evidence and argument shall not be permitted where the payment in question is received pursuant to state or federal program, from assets of claimant or claimant's immediate family, or from disability income payments. Iowa Code Ann. §668.14 .

COMPARATIVE FAULT

Recovery is not barred, but proportionally diminished, unless the claimant's percentage of fault is greater than the combined fault attributable to defendants, third party defendants, and any persons who have been released. This applies to general strict liability claims, but not to punitive damages claims. Iowa Code Ann. §§668.1 and 668.3 .

Defendant has burden of pleading and proving fault of the plaintiff, if any, and that it was a proximate cause of the injury or damage. Iowa Code Ann. §619.17 .

ECONOMIC LOSS

Plaintiffs cannot recover in tort when they have suffered only economic harm. On the other hand, damages resulting from physical injury to the user or consumer or to the user or consumer's property are sometimes recoverable in tort. In determining whether to allow recovery in tort for such damages, the court considers the following factors: the nature of the defect; the type of risk; and the manner in which the injury arose. Thus, while contract law is the only remedy available for damages resulting from the failure of the product to perform as expected, tort theory is generally available when the harm results from a sudden or dangerous occurrence resulting from a genuine hazard in the nature of the product defect. Nelson v. Todd's Ltd., 426 N.W.2d 120 (Iowa 1988) .

JOINT & SEVERAL LIABILITY

Joint and several liability shall not apply to defendants who are found to bear less than 50 percent of the total fault assigned to all parties. Defendants with 50 percent or more fault shall only be jointly and severally liable for economic damages and not for any noneconomic damage awards. Iowa Code Ann. §668.4 .

PUNITIVE DAMAGES

The standard of proof is a "preponderance of clear, convincing, and satisfactory evidence" of willful and wanton disregard for the rights or safety of others. If defendant's conduct was not directed specifically at the claimant, 25 percent of punitive damages awarded after payment of costs and fees may be ordered paid to claimant and the remainder paid into civil reparations trust fund. Discovery of defendant's wealth is only allowed after a prima facie case is established for punitive damages. Note that punitive damages are not reduced by the comparative fault of the claimant. Iowa Code Ann. §668A.1 .

Punitive damages are allowed in wrongful death actions. Koppinger v. Sullen-Schiltz & Assoc., 513 F.2d 901, 909 (8th Cir. 1975) .

RIGHT TO CONTRIBUTION

Right to contribution exists, whether or not claimant has recovered against all or any of the joint tortfeasors. It may be enforced either in the original action or by a separate action (within one year from rendering of judgment), based on each party's equitable share. A joint tortfeasor who settles cannot recover in contribution against another tortfeasor whose liability was not extinguished in the settlement. Iowa Code Ann. §§668.5 and 668.6 .

A release, covenant, or similar agreement entered into by a joint tortfeasor discharges that person from all liability for contribution. Such a release, covenant or agreement does not discharge the other tortfeasors unless it so provides, but the claim is reduced according to the released person's share of the fault. Iowa Code Ann. §668.7 .

SPECIAL DEFENSES

A seller who is not the assembler, designer, or manufacturer is immune from any actions based on strict liability, or breach of implied warranty of merchantability which arise solely from an alleged defect in the original design or manufacture of the product. Such a seller will not be liable for damages based on either doctrine, upon proof that the manufacturer is subject to jurisdiction and is not insolvent. Iowa Code Ann. §613.18(1) .

A retailer who assembles a product will not be liable for damages based on strict liability in tort or breach of implied warranty of merchantability for an alleged defect in the original design or manufacture, if: (1) the assembly has no causal relationship to the injury; and (2) the retailer can prove that the manufacturer is subject to jurisdiction and is not insolvent. Iowa Code Ann. §613.18(2) .

If manufacturer is not identifiable, the statute of limitation will toll until identified. Iowa Code Ann. §613.18(3) .

The state of the art defense, establishes an absolute duty to warn of unreasonable dangers, expressly denies any duty to warn of obvious risks or risk-avoidance measures, and limits failure to warn actions to those where reasonable minds may differ as to the reasonableness and visibility of the warning. Iowa Code Ann. §668.12 .

STATUTES OF LIMITATION

Actions for personal injury and wrongful death shall be brought within two years. An action for property damage shall be brought within five years. Iowa Code Ann. §§614.1(2) and 614.1(4) .

Breach of warranty actions shall be brought within five years (unwritten) or ten years (written). Iowa Code Ann. §614.1(4) and 614.1(5) .

STATUTES OF REPOSE

Product liability actions shall not be commenced more than fifteen years after the product was first purchased, leased, bailed, or installed for use or consumption unless expressly warranted for a longer period of time. This statute does not apply in cases where intentional misrepresentation or fraudulent concealing of information was a substantial cause of the claimants harm. In addition, the statute of repose does not affect the time during which a person may seek contribution or indemnity from another person whose fault actually caused the defect. Iowa Code Ann. §614.1(2A) .

STRUCTURED SETTLEMENT

If petitioned, the court may order structured, periodic or other non-lumpsum payments. However, this cannot be done if (1) the method would be inequitable; (2) there are insufficient guarantees of future collectability of the judgment; or (3) payments could be subject to other claims against defendant or his insurer. Iowa Code Ann. §668.3(7) .