That didn’t take long. Yesterday the Alabama House of Representatives passed SB-80, which abolishes the innovator liability theory created in the execrable decision in Wyeth, Inc. v. Weeks, ___ So.3d___, 2014 WL 4055813 (Ala. Aug. 15, 2014 (discussed here and here, and named #1 worst decision of 2014 here). Here is a copy of the enrolled bill. The online legislative history indicates that SB-80 passed the Alabama Senate 32-0 and the House 86-14.
The relevant statutory language, imposing a product identification requirement in all cases seeking damages caused by a product, states:
Section 1. In any civil action for personal injury, death, or property damage caused by a product, regardless of the type of claims alleged or the theory of liability asserted, the plaintiff must prove, among other elements, that the defendant designed, manufactured, sold, or leased the particular product the use of which is alleged to have caused the injury on which the claim is based, and not a similar or equivalent product. Designers, manufacturers, sellers, or lessors of products not identified as having been used, ingested, or encountered by an allegedly injured party may not be held liable for any alleged injury. A person, firm, corporation, association, partnership, or other legal or business entity whose design is copied or otherwise used by a manufacturer without the designer’s express authorization is not subject to liability for personal injury, death, or property damage caused by the manufacturer’s product, even if use of the design is foreseeable.
SB-80 §1 (emphasis added). Not only does this kill Weeks innovator liability, which was the motive force for the legislation, but it also abolishes market share liability, alternative liability, conspiracy liability, and any other industry-wide theories of liability in cases involving product-related injuries. Finally, the law shields non-manufacturing designers unless they “express[ly] authoriz[e]” the particular use of their design, regardless of “foreseeability.”
Thus, Weeks does not even survive long enough to obtain a published citation. Good riddance.
The legislation is not perfect, however – probably because of constructional concerns about making the abolition retroactive, even though the liability recognized in Weeks was completely unprecedented and had no business ever existing at all. Instead, the statute only takes effect “six months” after becoming law and applies only “to civil actions filed thereafter.” SB-80 §4.