Sherman Joyce


The law of product liability has been created by state judges and legislatures. Although not widely noticed, this tradition changed when Congress enacted the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994. That legislation established an eighteen-year statute of repose for claims brought by non-commercial passengers injured or killed in accidents involving light aircraft. Until that time, product liability law had been exclusively a function of state law. Nevertheless, product liability reform legislation has been the subject of extensive examination and scrutiny by Members of the United States Congress for one and a half decades. This Article analyzes the constitutional underpinnings for federal product liability reform legislation and explains why Congress has the authority under both the Commerce Clause and the Due Process Clause to pass federal product liability legislation. It also explains briefly why federal legislators, who otherwise favor returning power to the individual states, were justified in supporting federal legislation.