Utah Products Liability
In order to prevail on a claim for strict products liability, the plaintiff must meet a three-part test. The plaintiff must show:
- that the product was unreasonably dangerous due to a defect or defective condition,
- that the defect existed at the time the product was sold, and
- that the defective condition was a cause of the plaintiff's injuries.
Lamb v. B & B Amusements Corp., 869 P.2d 926, 929 (Utah 1993). See Utah Code Ann. § 78-15-6 (1992); Ernest W. Hahn, Inc. v. Armco Steel Co., 601 P.2d 152, 156 (Utah 1979).
Although our statute does not define a product liability action, product liability encompasses all actions seeking money damages for injury to people or property resulting from defective products. See 1 David G. Owen et al., Madden & Owen on Products Liability § 1:5 (3d ed.2000). An action for damages resulting from a defective product can be based on claims of negligence, strict liability, tortious misrepresentation, and breach of warranty. Id. If the facts permit, a plaintiff can choose to bring claims under one or all of these theories in a single action. Slisze v. Stanley–Bostitch, 1999 UT 20, ¶ 8, 979 P.2d 317. Thus, by choosing one of the available legal theories, a claimant does not thereby foreclose bringing the claim under any other theory. Id. Because all of these claims share the common characteristic *952 of arising out of an injury caused by a product, they are often all alleged together.
Although the Product Liability Act does not define a product liability action, section 78B–6–703 provides some insight into the subject in its description of what may or may not be a defective product. The statute states:
- In any action for damages for personal injury, death, or property damage allegedly caused by a defect in a product, a product may not be considered to have a defect or to be in a defective condition, unless at the time the product was sold by the manufacturer or other initial seller, there was a defect or defective condition in the product which made the product unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer.
Utah Code Ann. § 78B–6–703(1) (emphases added). What this statutory language makes clear is that in order to be governed by the two-year statute of limitations, the transaction must concern a product and that product must be defective when it is sold.
The Utah Product Liability Act applies to actions, in both tort and contract, arising from injury caused by a defective product. The two-year product liability statute of limitations will only apply if a claim alleges damage from a product and if that product was defective when sold. Because the tort and contract actions contained within product liability share common roots, whether a transaction involves a product can be determined by using the UCC test for determining whether the transaction was for goods. In cases involving hybrid transactions, this is done by examining the predominant purpose of the transaction. The overlap between tort and contract also allows the UCC definition of sale to be used to determine when a product is sold. Because we find these two tests from the UCC to be the appropriate tests for resolving the issue of whether ULGT's claim is for product liability, we reverse the decision of the court of appeals and remand for the application of these tests.
There is, however, a similarity between strict tort liability and liability under the U.C.C. on implied warranties. Each type of liability can give rise to damages for both personal injuries and for personal property damage. Thus, U.C.C. § 2-715(2) defines “consequential damages,” which may arise from a seller's breach of warranty, to include personal injury damages, as well as property damages.5 Nevertheless, under this provision, recovery for personal injury and property damage is dependent on a breach of warranty arising in connection with the sale of a product pursuant to a U.C.C. contract of sale.