Statutes of Limitations (IDAHO)
Personal Injury (including Breach of Implied Warranty) - 2 yrs. [I.C. § 5-219]
Wrongful Death - 2 yrs. [I.C. § 5-219]
Property Damage - 3 yrs. [I.C. § 5-218]
Written Contracts - 5 yrs. [I.C. § 5-216]
Oral Contracts - 4 yrs. [I.C. § 5-217]
Contracts for Sale (goods) and Breach of Warranty - 4 yrs. (from tender of delivery) [I.C. § 28-2-725]; but 2 yrs. if Breach of Implied Warranty involving Personal Injury [I.C. § 5-219]
Generally, there is no “discovery rule” in Idaho [Cosgrove By and Through Winfree v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 788 P.2d 1293 (Idaho, 1989)].
Statute of Repose (Products) (IDAHO)
No liability if Defendant proves by preponderance of evidence that harm was caused after product’s useful safe life. In claims involving harm caused more than 10 yrs. after time of delivery, a presumption arises that the harm was caused after the useful safe life had expired. This presumption may only be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence [I.C. § 6-1403].
Admissibility of Expert Testimony (IDAHO)
Daubert test has not been adopted. The admission of expert testimony is within the sound discretion of the trial court. Expert opinion which is speculative, conclusory, or unsubstantiated by facts in the record is of no assistance to the jury in rendering its verdict, and, therefore, is inadmissible [Swallow v. Emergency Med. of Idaho, P.A., 67 P.3d 68 (Idaho 2003)].
Causes of Action (IDAHO)
Product liability actions are governed by the Idaho Products Liability Reform Act (“Act”) [I.C. §§ 6-1401 – 6-1410]
Strict Liability – Idaho has adopted Rest. (2nd) of Torts, 402A. One who sells any product in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user is subject to liability if: (1) the seller is engaged in the business of selling such a product; and (2) the product is expected to and does reach the user without substantial change in the condition in which it is sold [Shields v. Morton Chem. Co., 518 P.2d 857 (Idaho 1974)].
Negligence – An injury may give rise to claims that can be made out either under principles of strict products liability or negligence, and failure to prove one theory does not preclude proving another theory [Chancler v. American Hardware Mut. Ins. Co., 712 P.2d 542 (Idaho 1985)].
Breach of Warranty – Idaho has adopted the standard UCC express warranty [I.C. § 28-2-313]; implied warranty of merchantability [I.C. § 28-2-314]; implied warranty of fitness for particular purpose [I.C. § 28-2-315]. A seller’s warranty (express or implied) extends to any natural person who is in the family or household of his buyer or who is a guest in his home if it is reasonable to expect that such person may use, consume or be affected by the goods and who is injured in person by breach of the warranty [I.C. § 28-2-318].
Definition of “Defect” (IDAHO)
A product may be defective because of a defect in its design or manufacture or because of a failure to adequately warn the consumer of a hazard involved in the foreseeable use of the product. A product has a defect when it exposes a user or bystander to an unreasonable risk of physical injury, or if it is more dangerous than would be expected by an ordinary person who may reasonably be expected to use it. The law does not say what would be expected by an ordinary person or who may reasonably be expected to use the product - both of these issues are for juries to decide [IDJI 10.01.1].
Also, see discussion below re: "design defects."
Liability of Sellers (IDAHO)
With some exceptions, in the absence of express warranties to the contrary, sellers are not liable in circumstances where they do not have a reasonable opportunity to inspect the product in a manner which would or should, in the exercise of reasonable care, reveal the existence of the defective condition which is in issue; or where the product seller acquires the product in a sealed package or container and sells the product in the same sealed package or container. [I.C. § 6-1407]. “Product seller” includes wholesalers, distributors, and retailers, lessors, bailors [I.C. § 6-1402].
Comparative Negligence – Idaho follows modified comparative negligence (damages are diminished in proportion to Plaintiff’s fault, but Plaintiff cannot recover if he is 50% at fault) [I.C. § 6-801]. Applies to all product liability actions under the Act. [I.C. § 6-1407].
Assumption of Risk – Defense is allowed as a component of comparative negligence [Watson v. Navistar Int’l Transp. Corp., 827 P.2d 656 (Idaho 1992)].
Product Misuse – Defense is allowed as a component of comparative negligence [Watson v. Navistar Int’l Transp. Corp., 827 P.2d 656 (Idaho 1992)]. “Misuse” occurs when the product user does not act in a manner that would be expected of an ordinary reasonably prudent person who is likely to use the product in the same or similar circumstances [I.C. § 6-1405].
Product Alteration/Modification – Occurs when a person changes the design, construction, or formula of the product, or changes or removes warnings or instructions that accompanied or were displayed on the product. “Alteration or modification” includes the failure to observe routine care and maintenance, but does not include ordinary wear and tear. When Defendant proves, by a preponderance of the evidence, that an alteration or modification has proximately caused the harm, Plaintiff’s damages are subject to reduction or apportionment to the extent that the alteration or modification was a proximate cause of the harm [I.C. § 6-1405].
Economic Loss Doctrine (ELD) (Product Destroys Only Itself) (IDAHO)
ELD applies. Manufacturer bears the risk that his product will cause physical injury to the consumer, but the consumer can be fairly charged with the risk that the product will not match his economic expectations unless the manufacturer agrees that it will. In a products liability action, the party who bears the risk of loss generally determines whether recovery can be found in tort, contract or warranty [Aardema v. U.S. Dairy Sys., 215 P.3d 505 (Idaho 2009)].
There are two exceptions to the general rule which prevents a party from recovering purely economic loss in a tort claim: (1) where a special relationship exists between the parties; or (2) where unique circumstances require a reallocation of the risk [Aardema v. U.S. Dairy Sys., 215 P.3d 505 (Idaho 2009)].
Malfunction Theory (Using Circumstantial Evidence to Prove Defect) (IDAHO)
In the absence of direct evidence, other evidence negating other causes of failure and making it reasonable to infer that a dangerous condition existed at the time that the manufacturer had control is sufficient [Westfall v. Caterpillar, Inc., 821 P.2d 973 (Idaho 1991)].
Design Defects (IDAHO)
Strict liability encompasses both design and manufacture. There is no rational distinction between design and manufacture, since a product may be equally defective and dangerous if its design subjects protected persons to unreasonable risk as if its manufacture does so. Manufacturer of a product made under a plan or design which makes it dangerous for the uses for which it is manufactured is subject to liability to others whom he should expect to use the chattel (or to be endangered by its probable use) for physical harm caused by his failure to exercise reasonable care in the adoption of a safe plan or design [Rindlisbaker v. Wilson, 519 P.2d 421 (Idaho 1974)]. A product must be designed “so as to eliminate unreasonable risks of foreseeable injuries” [Nepanuseno v. Hansen, 104 P.3d 984 (Idaho App. 2004)].
The proper perspective from which it is to be determined that a product is “unreasonably dangerous” is that of the ordinary user or consumer for whose use the product is intended, that is, for whose use it must be safely designed [Rojas v. Lindsay Mfg. Co., 701 P.2d 210 (Idaho 1985)].
Failure to Warn (IDAHO)
Failure to warn can be a basis for recovery in a products liability action, whether alleged under a theory of strict liability in tort or negligence [Massey v. Conagra Foods, Inc., 328 P.3d 456 (Idaho 2014)].
Where Defendant has reason to anticipate that danger may result from a particular use of his product and he fails to give adequate warnings of such a danger, a product sold without such warning is in a defective condition. This rule is limited to situations where the danger is not obvious. If the danger is obvious, or if the danger is known to the person injured, the duty to warn does not attach [Watson v. Navistar Int'l Transp. Corp., 827 P.2d 656 (Idaho 1992)].
Independent Cause of Action for Evidence Spoliation (IDAHO)
Idaho recognizes a cause of action against a third-party for intentional interference with a prospective civil action by spoliation of evidence. [Raymond v. Idaho State Police, 451 P.3d 17 (Idaho 2019)].