Individual States 

NORTH DAKOTA

ASSUMPTION OF RISK

Assumption of risk is a defense on a modified comparative fault basis. N.D. Cent. Code §32-03.2-01 to 02 .

CAPS ON NONECONOMIC DAMAGES

There are no exclusive Products Liability statutes under this category.

COLLATERAL SOURCE RULE

Defendant is entitled to a reduction of economic damages to the extent they are covered by payment from a collateral source, not including life insurance, other death or retirement benefits, or any insurance or benefits purchased by the party recovering damages. N.D. Cent. Code §32-03.2-06 .

Jury may not be informed of the possibility of reduction based on collateral sources. N.D. Cent. Code §32-03.2-10 .

COMPARATIVE FAULT

North Dakota now has a modified comparative fault system where the plaintiff cannot recover if the plaintiff's fault is as great as or exceeds the combined fault of all the other person's who contributed to the injury. N.D. Cent. Code §32-03.2-02 .

Under this section, fault includes negligence, absolute liability, failure to warn, reckless or willful conduct, assumption of risk, misuse of product, failure to avoid injury, and product liability, including product liability involving negligence or strict liability or breach of warranty for product defect. N.D. Cent. Code §32-03.2-02 .

ECONOMIC LOSS

The economic loss theory bars tort claims when the only damage is to the defective product itself. Hagert v. Hatton Commodities, Inc., 350 N.W.2d 591 (N.D.1984) .

Damages to property other than the defective product itself are recoverable in a tort action. Clarys v. Ford Motor Co., 592 N.W.2d 573 (1999) .

Economic loss doctrine applies to consumer purchasers as well as to commercial transactions. Steiner v. Ford Motor Co., 606 N.W.2d 881 (2000) .

JOINT & SEVERAL LIABILITY

Joint and several liability has been abolished. The fact finder must apportion the fault of all persons (party or non-party), and liability is several only. N.D. Cent. Code §32-03.2-02 .

Each party is liable only for the amount of damages attributable to the percentage of fault of that party, except that any persons who act in concert in committing a tortious act or aid or encourage the act, or ratifies or adopts the act for their benefit, are jointly liable for all damages attributable to their combined percentage of fault. N.D. Cent. Code §32-03.2-02 .

PUNITIVE DAMAGES

Punitive damages are allowed if clear and convincing evidence of oppression, fraud, or actual malice is shown. The amount of damages awarded in a case may not exceed the greater of twice he amount of compensatory damages or $250,000. The defendant's financial condition is not admissible as evidence for purposes of determining punitive damages. Upon request by either party the court shall make a decision on punitive damages separate from findings of liability or compensatory relief. N.D. Cent. Code §32-03.2-11 .

RIGHT TO CONTRIBUTION

Since a party is only responsible for its own share of fault, it may not seek contribution from others. Target Stores, a Div. of Dayton Hudson Corp. v. Automated Maint. Servs. Inc., 492 N.W.2d 899 (N.D. 1992) .

SPECIAL DEFENSES

No manufacturer or seller is liable when an unforeseeable alteration or modification of the product was a substantial contributing cause of the accident. N.D. Cent. Code §28-01.3-03 .

In any products liability action maintained against a seller of a product who did not manufacture the product, the claim shall be dismissed, unless the plaintiff can show control, or provision of warnings to the manufacturer; actual knowledge of the defect, or creation of the defect. N.D. Cent. Code §28-01.3-04 .

For product liability action commenced against a seller for defective design, or inadequate warnings, the manufacturer from whom the product was acquired by the seller may be required to assume the cost of defense of the action, and any liability that may be imposed on the seller. The obligation to assume the seller's cost of defense should also extend to an action in which the manufacturer and seller are ultimately found not liable. N.D. Cent. Code §28-01.3-05 .

There is a rebuttable presumption that a product is free from any defect or defective condition where the plans, designs, warnings, or instructions for the product or the methods and techniques of manufacturing, inspecting, and testing the product were in conformity with government standards. N.D. Cent. Code §28-01.3-09 .

STATUTES OF LIMITATION

Property damage and personal injury actions must be brought within six years. N.D. Cent. Code §28-01-16 .

Wrongful death actions must be brought within two years. N.D. Cent. Code §28-01-18 .

Breach of warranty actions must be brought within four years. N.D. Cent. Code §41-02-104 .

STATUTES OF REPOSE

There is no statute of repose for product liability actions in North Dakota.

STRUCTURED SETTLEMENT

If a separate award is made for continuing custodial care, any party may make periodic payment, as approved by the court, provided payment is adequately, secured with the obligation terminating upon the death of the injured person. N.D. Cent. Code §32-03.2-09 104 .