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What is a ‘statute of repose’ for defective medical device suits?

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A previous post here discussed the idea of statutes of limitation on lawsuits for personal injury or wrongful death in certain cases involving medical professionals. As we discussed then, not only might a lawsuit be barred if it is commenced longer than two years after the injury occurred or was discovered, but, in cases of the use of a defective medical device, there may be a “statute of repose” that also comes into play. But what does this mean in Texas?

Well, Texas Civil Code Section 16.012 is the law that would be considered the “statute of repose” in such cases. It covers “products liability” suits, in which someone is attempting to recover damages for injury that occurred due to a defective product or device. It requires that a lawsuit be filed within 15 years of the date the product was sold by the defending manufacturer or seller, unless there is an express warranty of safety for a longer period of time, in which case the lawsuit must be brought before such time period expires.

So, what does this mean? It means that not only does a party seeking relief due to a defective medical device need to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations, but in order to recover from the seller or manufacturer of the defective product the product must have been sold, normally, within 15 years of the filing of the lawsuit. The exception to this would be a defective product that was used within 15 years of the sale date that caused a disease whose symptoms did not become discoverable until after the time period expired.

As can be seen the interplay of these laws can be complex. Anyone who believes that a defective medical device caused serious injury or death may need to get additional information.

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