Individual States 

RHODE ISLAND

ASSUMPTION OF RISK

Assumption of Risk is a complete defense barring recovery to a product liability action, whether in strict liability or breach of warranty. Fiske v. MacGregor, Div. of Brunswick, 464 A.2d 719 (R.I. 1983) .

CAPS ON NONECONOMIC DAMAGES

Every action brought under the noneconomic statute will be brought by the person(s) sustaining the loss of society, companionship and/or consortium. Whenever any person or corporation is found liable under the wrongful death statutes it will be liable in damages for no less than two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($ 250,000). R.I. Gen. Laws §10-7-1 .2 .

COLLATERAL SOURCE RULE

Evidence of payments made to an injured party from sources independent of a tortfeasor is inadmissible and shall not diminish the tortfeasor's liability to the plaintiff. Votolato v. Merandi, 747 A.2d 455 .

COMPARATIVE FAULT

In all actions brought for personal injuries, death or for injury to property (including product liability strict liability, negligence, and warranty) the claimant's comparative negligence will not bar a recovery, but damages will be diminished in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to the claimant. This is a so called "pure" comparative negligence statute where even if the plaintiff's comparative fault is greater than 50 percent, he may still be awarded a recovery. R.I. Gen. Laws §9-20-4 .

ECONOMIC LOSS

Where the contracting parties are sophisticated commercial entities of comparable economic strength and bargaining power, the seller- manufacturer is not liable as a tortfeasor for the buyer's economic losses. Boston Inv. Prop. #1 State v. E.W. Burman, Inc., 658 A.2d 515 (R.I. 1995) .

The economic loss doctrine is not applicable to consumer transaction. Thus, when a cause of action arises under a contract and there is no privity of contract, an action in tort remains available, even if the damages are purely economic. Rousseau v. K.N. Constr., Inc., 727 A.2d 190 (R.I. 1999) .

JOINT & SEVERAL LIABILITY

Each joint tortfeasor is jointly and severally liable for the entire amount of an injured party's damages, and the injured party may choose to pursue and recover from just one, some, or all the joint tortfeasors. Wilson v. Krasnoff, 560 A.2d 335 (R.I. 1989) .

PUNITIVE DAMAGES

Punitive damages are recoverable in negligence or strict liability, but not in breach of warranty. Punitive damages are awarded where the defendant acted maliciously, intending to harm the plaintiff. Zarella v. Minn. Mutual Life Ins. Co., 824 A.2d 1249 (R.I. 2003) .

RIGHT TO CONTRIBUTION

The right of contribution exists among joint tortfeasors; provided however, that when there is a disproportion of fault among joint tortfeasors, the relative degree of fault of the joint tortfeasors shall be considered in determining their pro rata shares. R.I. Gen. Laws §10-6-3 .

A plaintiff may recover 100 percent of his or her damages from a joint tortfeasor who has contributed to the injury in any degree. The joint tortfeasor may then seek contribution pursuant to statute either by a separate action or by impleading the fellow joint tortfeasor under third-party practice. Roberts-Robertson v. Lombardi, 598 A.2d 1380 (R.I. 1991) .

The recovery of a judgment by the injured person against one joint tortfeasor does not discharge the other joint tortfeasors. R.I. Gen. Laws §§10-6-1 and 10-6-6 .

A release by the claimant of one joint tortfeasor does not relieve him from liability to make contribution to another joint tortfeasor, unless the release is given prior to the right of the joint tortfeasor to secure a money judgment for contribution has accrued, and provides for a reduction, to the extent of the pro rata share of the released tortfeasor, of the injured person's damages recoverable against all the other tortfeasors. R.I. Gen. Laws §10-6-8 .

A defendant, as a third-party plaintiff, may sue a non-party to the action who may be liable in plaintiff's claim against him. It is immaterial whether the basis of the secondary liability is indemnity, subrogation, contribution, warranty or some other theory. R.I. Super. Ct. R. Civ. Proc. 14 .

SPECIAL DEFENSES

No manufacturer or seller of a product shall be liable for product liability damages where a substantial cause of the injury, death, or damage was a subsequent alteration or modification. R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-32(2)(b) .

STATUTES OF LIMITATION

Personal injury actions (strict liability, negligence, or breach of warranty) shall be commenced and sued within three years after the cause of action accrues. R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-14(1) .

Wrongful Death actions must be brought within three years. R.I. Gen. Laws §10-7-1 .

Breach of warranty actions must be brought within four years after the cause of action has accrued, but applies only where the claim sounds in contract, not in tort. R.I. Gen. Laws §6A-2-725(1) .

Any action for breach of warranty arising out of an alleged design, inspection, testing or manufacturing defect, or any other alleged defect of whatsoever kind or nature in a product, must be commenced within ten years after the date the product was first purchased for use. R.I. Gen. Laws §6A-2-725(5) .

STATUTE OF REPOSE

There is no relevant statute of repose for product liability actions in Rhode Island

STRUCTURED SETTLEMENT

In any action to recover damages for personal injury, injury to property, or wrongful death for which a judgment of one hundred fifty thousand ($150,000) dollars or more is entered, a post-judgment conference will be held for the purpose of determining the viability of a voluntary agreement for payment of the judgment in periodic installments. R.I. Gen. Laws §9-21-12 .