2005 Ohio Tort Reform Protects the Manufacturer of the “Fireball” Ride from Redress for the Victims. Read how this law affects Ohioans more commonly than this one horrifying incident.
The 10 year limits on manufactures liability protects corporate interests while making consumers more vulnerable to factory and design defects. The consequences of the law go beyond the potential injustice of this case.
My first car was a 1994 Honda Civic. I loved that cute little red car. My parents loved that it was a reliable vehicle, with airbags for their most precious, yet inexperienced driver. That Honda Civic got me through my last two years of high school, four years of college, 3 years of law school and into the beginning of my career as a lawyer. I took good care of the car and it took good care of me. Thankfully, I never even got into any accidents, so those driver and passenger side airbags stayed nice and neatly tucked away.
Now, everyone has heard that older Hondas were made to last, right? That was why my parents were interested in buying one; a car that would last me until I was out of the house and on my feet. And it sure did.
Stop and ask yourself: should the air bag of this cute little red car still fire if it is in an accident after 12 years on the road? I sure expected it to.
In 2005, the Ohio legislature passed a Tort Reform bill. Among many other things, this law removed a manufacturer’s liability for any product they make after the product is 10 years old. So even though Honda manufactured and advertised this vehicle to be a safe and solid investment for years to come, if the airbag on my cute Honda Civic did not protect me in an accident in 2006, they were not responsible.
It makes me wonder. If the airbag in my car didn’t fire in 2006 (when it was 12 years old), would have fired in 1994 when I bought the car? In 1996? 1998? Maybe not, if there was a defect caused by Honda. Yet because of this tort reform law, we will never know because a case to investigate that 12 year old airbag had passed.
The founders of our country thought the right to a judgment by a jury of your peers was so important, it was made the subject of the 7th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Why did the Ohio lawmakers think that the citizens of Ohio were not capable of figuring out whether or not a manufacturer may be responsible for their perfect airbag not going off?
This is one of the questions that the injured victims who were riding the Fireball at the Ohio State Fair this summer when a corroded beam sheared off, throwing a gondola full of riders to the ground. If the ride was designed for outdoor use for years and years, why didn’t the manufacturer design it so that the beams exposed to the elements be protected from this kind of corrosion that occurred? I bet these families would like to ask KMG, the Norwegian manufacturer of the Fireball, this very question. However, because of Ohio’s 10 year Statute of Repose contained in that 2005 Tort Reform law, they will not be able to. The Columbus Dispatch published an article about the Tort Reform laws effect on the Fireball tragedy.
Written By Sydney McLafferty- Partner GBM Law
Article about the Tort Reform laws effect on the Fireball tragedy– link to
Tort Reform bill link to http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/2315.18