Determining where to file a product liability lawsuit can be extremely difficult, as oftentimes the plaintiff has a choice of filing in the state of residence or in the state where the company who manufactures the product associated with a lawsuit is located. Each state has different rules in effect regarding statutes of limitations and other legal requirements, and filing in the right jurisdiction can drastically increase the likelihood of a favorable verdict.
But sometimes where you file has less to do with the anticipated verdict and everything to do with the fact the statute of limitations might expire in one state and not another. This was the case for an Alabama man who sued the manufacturers of Accutane after the drug caused him to develop severe Irritable Bowel Syndrome, ultimately culminating in the removal of his colon.
Both Alabama (the state where he lived) and New Jersey (the state where the product was manufactured) had a two-year statute of limitations. But Alabama started the clock from the date the injury was suffered, whereas New Jersey had allowances for the clock not starting until the plaintiff realized he might have a claim. The plaintiff won the case, but the verdict was thrown out when lawyers for the manufacturer argued the Alabama statute of limitations should apply. Courts went back and forth on the matter, and ultimately the verdict against the manufacturer was reinstated after an appeals court determined that the New Jersey statute of limitations can apply.
All of this can be very confusing to the average consumer. The plaintiff does not necessarily have the ability to choose where to file. The legal system has complex rules in place determining which state’s laws apply to individual cases, even when those cases are filed in other states. But exploring all your options is key when pressing a products liability case.
If you or someone you love has suffered due to defective medications, or due to the manufacturer not providing suitable guidelines and warnings, the legal system can seem overwhelming. Please, retain a qualified attorney who can walk you through the process, and who can help you make the important decisions regarding your case.