Individual States 

TENNESSEE

ASSUMPTION OF RISK

The doctrine of implied assumption of risk no longer operates as a complete bar to recovery in Tennessee. Perez v. McConkey, 872 S.W.2d 897 (Tenn. 1994) .

Express assumption of risk is a complete bar to recovery so long as it does not extend to liability for willful or gross negligence and does not otherwise offend public policy. Perez v. McConkey, 872 S.W.2d 897 (Tenn. 1994) .

CAPS ON NONECONOMIC DAMAGES

There are no exclusive Products Liability statutes under this category.

COLLATERAL SOURCE RULE

Tennessee does not apply the collateral source rule to contract actions. Safeco Ins. Co. v. City of White House, 191 F.3d 675 (6th Cir. 1999) .

COMPARATIVE FAULT

Tennessee has rejected the doctrine of contributory negligence in favor of a modified comparative fault doctrine and applies it to strict liability cases. Any products liability plaintiff who proceeds on a negligence theory in a products case will no longer be barred from recovery unless the plaintiff's fault is fifty percent or more. McIntyre v. Balentine, 833 S.W.2d 52 (Tenn. 1992) .

Comparative fault principles apply to products liability actions in which the defective product did not cause or contribute to the underlying accident but did cause enhanced injuries. In products liability actions, enhanced injuries represent the portion of the total damages for which the manufacturer is potentially liable. Sherer v. Linginfelter, 29 S.W.3d 451 (2000) .

Upon the Tennessee Supreme Court's adoption of its present comparative fault system in 1992, despite the great pressure the bar has put on the courts for guidance, there have been but a few cases addressing the applicability of comparative fault to products liability actions. Owens v. Truckstops of Am., 915 S.W.2d 420 (Tenn. 1996) .

ECONOMIC LOSS

Tennessee has adopted the economic loss theory. Ritter v. Custom Chemicides, Inc., 912 S.W.2d 128 (Tenn. 1995) .

While there is no recovery under a theory of strict liability for solely economic losses, damages to "other property" are recoverable in tort. Messer Griesheim Indus., Inc. v. Cryotech of Kingsport, Inc., 2003 WL 21634392 (Tenn.Ct.App.) .

JOINT & SEVERAL LIABILITY

The doctrine of joint and several liability was rendered obsolete by the adoption of modified comparative fault. With certain exceptions, a defendant is only responsible for liability arising from his own negligent acts. McIntyre v. Balentine, 833 S.W.2d 52 (Tenn. 1992) .

In a case where the defendants may be held jointly and severally liable under strict liability but are also charged with negligence, liability for negligence is as separate, independent tortfeasors and several only. As a result, a plaintiff who proceeds on a negligence theory will lose the benefit of joint and several liability afforded to those who proceed on a strict liability theory. John A. Day & Donald Capparella, Tennessee Law of Comparative Fault, (2002), supra n. 83, §9.03, at 9-22 .

PUNITIVE DAMAGES

Punitive damages are recoverable in product liability actions, however they are not recoverable as a matter of right, but rest within the discretion of the trier of fact after being presented with clear and convincing evidence of defendant misconduct. Huckeby v. Spangler, 563 S.W.2d 555 (Tenn. 1978) .

Punitive damages are allowed, after an award for compensatory damages, in negligence cases when there has been some willful misconduct, or entire want of care which would raise the presumption of a conscious indifference to consequences. Lazenby v. Universal Underwriters Ins. Co., 214 Tenn. 639 (1964) .

RIGHT TO CONTRIBUTION

Where two or more persons are determined to be jointly or severally liable in tort for the same injury to person or property or for the same wrongful death, there is a right of contribution among them even though judgment has not been recovered against all or any of them. However, the right exists only in favor of a tortfeasor who has paid more than the proportionate share of the shared liability between two or more tortfeasors for the same injury or wrongful death and the tortfeasor's total recovery is limited to the amount paid by the tortfeasor in excess of this proportionate share. Tenn. Code Ann. §29-11-102(a)(b) .

In civil actions where comparative fault is or becomes an issue, if a defendant named in an original complaint, and if the plaintiff's cause of action against such person would be barred by any applicable statute of limitations but for the operation of this section, the plaintiff may either amend the complaint to add such person as a defendant, or institute a separate action against that person. Tenn. Code Ann. §20-1-119 .

SPECIAL DEFENSES

Compliance by a manufacturer or seller with any federal or state statute or administrative regulation existing at the time a product was manufactured shall raise a rebuttable presumption that the product is not in an unreasonably dangerous condition in regard to matters covered by these standards. Tenn. Code Ann. §29-28-104 .

No product liability action can be commenced or maintained against any seller when the product is acquired and sold by the seller in a sealed container and/or when the product is acquired and sold by the seller under circumstances in which the seller is afforded no reasonable opportunity to inspect the product in such a manner which would or should, in the exercise of reasonable care, reveal the existence of the defective condition. Tenn. Code Ann. §29-28-106(a) .

No product liability action based on strict liability can be brought against any seller, whereby a product is alleged to contain or possess a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the end-user, unless the seller is also the manufacturer of the product or the manufacturer of the allegedly defective part; or the manufacturer of the product/part in question is not be subject to service of process, cannot be secured by the long-arm statutes, or unless such manufacturer has been judicially declared insolvent. Tenn. Code Ann. §29-28-106(b) .

If product is altered or abnormally used the manufacturer or seller is not liable. Tenn. Code Ann. §29-28-108 .

STATUTES OF LIMITATION

In products liability cases, the cause of action for personal injury (including wrongful death) shall accrue on the date of the personal injury, not the date of the negligence or the sale of a product. Thus, a cause of action can be maintained until one year from the date of the injury. Tenn. Code Ann. §28-3-104(b) .

In tort actions for injury to property the action must be commenced within three years from date of injury. Tenn. Code Ann. §28-3-105 .

Breach of warranty actions shall be brought within four years. Tenn. Code Ann. §47-2-725.

STATUTES OF REPOSE

Any action against a manufacturer or seller of a product for personal or property injury on the basis of its defective or unreasonably dangerous condition must be brought within six years of the date of injury, ten years from the date of purchase, or within one year after the expiration of the anticipated life of the product, whichever is the shorter. Injury to minors is excepted, whereby an action must be brought within a period of one year after attaining the age of majority. Tenn. Code Ann. §29-28-103(a) .

STRUCTURED SETTLEMENT

The Structured Settlement Protection Act (2000) governs transfer agreements authorized by final order of the court. Tenn. Code Ann. §47-18-2601 to -2607 .