Statutes of Limitations (MAINE)
All Torts - 6 yrs. [14 M.R.S.A. § 752] (usually, no discovery rule applies, with some case-by-case exceptions)
Wrongful Death - 2 yrs. after death [18-A M.R.S.A. § 2-804]
Property Damage - 6 yrs. [14 M.R.S.A. § 752]
Contracts (Written and Oral) - 6 yrs. [14 M.R.S.A. § 752]
Contracts of Sale (goods) and Breach of Warranty - 4 yrs.(from tender of delivery); but Breach of Warranty cases Involving Personal Injury - 6 yrs. (from when breach occurs) [11 M.R.S.A. § 2-725]
Statute of Repose (Products) (MAINE)
Admissibility of Expert Testimony (MAINE)
Daubert test not been adopted. In cases where expert testimony rests on newly ascertained, or applied, scientific principles, a trial court may consider whether the scientific matters involved in the proffered testimony have been generally accepted or conform to a generally accepted explanatory theory in determining whether the threshold level of reliability has been met. General acceptance is not a prerequisite for admission, however. A court has latitude to admit proffered evidence involving newly ascertained, or applied, scientific principles that have not yet achieved general acceptance if a showing has been made that satisfies the court that the proffered evidence is sufficiently reliable to be held relevant [Searles v. Fleetwood Homes of Pa., Inc., 878 A.2d 509 (Me. 2005)].
Causes of Action (MAINE)
Strict Liability – Statutory definition. One who sells products in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user or to his property is subject to liability for physical harm thereby caused to a person whom the manufacturer, seller or supplier might reasonably have expected to use, consume or be affected by the products, or to his property, if the seller is engaged in the business of selling such a product and the product is expected to and does reach the user without significant change in the condition in which it is sold [14 M.R.S.A. § 221].
Negligence – The treatment of negligence and strict liability is not always distinguished. The reason is that some of the elements often overlap, particularly the issues of proximate cause and Defendant’s duty to warn. For both the negligence and strict liability theories it is essential that Plaintiff prove that the defective design or the failure to warn proximately caused Plaintiff’s injuries [Marois v. Paper Converting Machine Co., 539 A.2d 621 (Me. Feb. 1988)].
Breach of Warranty – Maine has adopted teh standard UCC implied warranty of merchantability [11 M.R.S.A. § 2-314]; implied warranty of fitness for particular purpose [11 M.R.S.A. § 2-315]; express warranty [11 M.R.S.A. § 2-313]. Lack of privity between Plaintiff and Defendant is no defense in any action brought against the manufacturer, seller or supplier of goods for breach of warranty (express or implied), although Plaintiff did not purchase the goods from Defendant, if Plaintiff was a person whom the manufacturer, seller or supplier might reasonably have expected to use, consume or be affected by the goods [11 M.R.S.A. § 2-318].
Definition of “Defect” (MAINE)
Products will be considered in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to users either where error was committed in the manufacturing or design process, or where the manufacturer or supplier failed to warn of a product hazard. Even where a product is faultlessly made, it may be deemed “defective” if it is unreasonably dangerous to place the product in the hands of a user without a suitable warning and the product is supplied without such warning [Walker v. General Electric Co., 968 F.2d 116 (1st Cir. Me. 1992)].
Also, see discussion below re: "design defects."
Liability of Sellers (MAINE)
Sellers and lessors are strictly liable [Turner v. Hudson, 1986 Me. Super. LEXIS 278 (Me. Super. Ct. 1986)]. Seller must be engaged in the business of selling such a product.
Comparative Negligence – Maine follows modified comparative negligence (damages are diminished in proportion to Plaintiff’s fault, but Plaintiff cannot recover if he is 50% at fault) [14 M.R.S.A. § 156]. Comparative negligence is available as a defense to a strict liability action. Contributory negligence consisting merely in a failure to discover the defect in the product or to guard against the possibility of its existence is not fault of Plaintif [Hinton v. Outboard Marine Corp., 828 F. Supp. 2d 366 (D. Me. 2011)].
Assumption of Risk – A form of contributory negligence in strict liability cases [Austin v. Raybestos-Manhattan, Inc., 471 A.2d 280 (Me. 1984)]. Does not exist as a defense in cases based on negligence [Johnson v. Chrysler Corp., 187 F.R.D. 440 (D. Me. 1999)].
Product Alteration/Modification – Even if a substantive change is made in a product, the manufacturer will not be relieved of liability unless the change was an unforeseen and intervening proximate cause of the injury [Marois v. Paper Converting Machine Co., 539 A.2d 621 (Me. 1988)].
Product Misuse – Foreseeable misuses is part of the comparative negligence analysis [Stanley v. Schiavi Mobile Homes, Inc., 462 A.2d 1144 (Me. 1983)].
Economic Loss Doctrine (ELD) (Product Destroys Only Itself) (MAINE)
Tort recovery is not allowed for defective product’s damage to itself. [Oceanside at Pine Point Condominium Owners Ass'n v. Peachtree Doors, Inc., 659 A.2d 267 (Me. 1995)]. “Integrated products rule” states that court must look to the product purchased or bargained for by Plaintiff rather than to the particular product sold by Defendant [Fireman's Fund Ins. Co. v. Childs, 52 F.Supp.2d 139 (D. Me. 1999)].
Malfunction Theory (Using Circumstantial Evidence to Prove Defect) (MAINE)
The malfunction theory in no way relieves Plaintiff of the burden of proving a defect, it simply allows him to show that a defect is the most likely explanation for an accident by eliminating other reasonable explanations. Plaintiff must satisfy the burden of proving that a defect is the most likely cause of the accident, and therefore must negate the likelihood of other reasonable causes [Walker v. General Electric Co., 968 F.2d 116 (1st Cir. Me. 1992)].
Design Defects (MAINE)
In determining whether a product is sold in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user, Plaintiff must establish that the product was defectively designed, thereby exposing the user to an unreasonable risk of harm. Such proof involves an examination of the utility of the product’s design, the risk of such design and the feasibility of safer alternatives [Walker v. General Electric Co., 968 F.2d 116 (1st Cir. Me. 1992)]
Whether a product is defectively designed requires a balancing by the jury of its utility against the likelihood of and gravity of injury from its use. The jury may consider many factors before deciding whether a product’s usefulness or desirability are outweighed by its risks. Their finding on defectiveness may be influenced by evidence of a safer design that would have prevented the injury.
Failure to Warn (MAINE)
Even where a product is faultlessly made, it may be deemed “defective” if it is unreasonably dangerous to place the product in the hands of a user without a suitable warning and the product is supplied without such warning [Walker v. General Electric Co., 968 F.2d 116 (1st Cir. Me. 1992)]
A product-related danger may be regarded as knowable if the available scientific data gave rise to a reasonable inference that the danger is likely to exist. A manufacturer is held to the knowledge and skill of an expert, and is required to test his products and keep abreast of scientific discoveries related to his products, but he has a duty to warn only of dangers that the employment of the reasonable foresight of an expert could reveal. State of the art evidence is relevant in determining whether the defendant is liable in a failure-to-warn case [Bernier v. Raymark Industries, Inc., 516 A.2d 534 (Me. 1986)].
Regardless of whether a failure to warn claim is phrased in terms of negligence or strict liability, the analysis is basically the same. A products liability action for failure to warn requires a three-part analysis: (1) whether the defendant held a duty to warn the plaintiff; (2) whether the actual warning on the product, if any, was inadequate; and (3) whether the inadequate warning proximately caused the plaintiff’s injury. Where warning is given, the seller may reasonably assume that it will be read and heeded [Koken v. Black & Veatch Constr., Inc., 426 F.3d 39 (1st Cir. Me. 2005)]
Independent Cause of Action for Evidence Spoliation (MAINE)
Maine does not recognize a cause of action for spoliation of evidence [Gagne v. D.E. Jonsen, Inc., 298 F.Supp.2d 145 (D. Me. 2003)].