Tanges v. Heidelberg N. Am., Inc.
Court of Appeals of New York
February 10, 1999, Argued ; March 30, 1999, Decided
[*51] [***605] [**251] Bellacosa, J.
This Court is asked, within the boundaries of a certification from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, to answer the question whether Connecticut General Statutes § 52-577a bars plaintiff's products liability lawsuit. The case was lodged in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York and its dismissal there took the case on appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
New York State's choice of law principles point the way to the conclusion that the pertinent Connecticut statute (which [*52] incorporates a repose provision into the State's codified products liability law) is a part of that neighboring State's substantive law.
In November 1983, Danbury Printing and Litho, Inc. bought a printing press manufactured by defendants Heidelberg et al. and installed that press in its Danbury, Connecticut plant. Ten years and three months later, plaintiff Tanges, a New York resident employed [****4] by Danbury Printing, sustained serious injuries while operating the press. He was awarded workers' compensation benefits.
Tanges also started a products liability action, premised on diversity of jurisdiction, against defendants in Federal court. Danbury Printing intervened as an additional plaintiff, seeking to recover the payments it had made to, or on behalf of, Tanges under Connecticut's Workers' Compensation Act. Defendants answered and moved for summary judgment. They urged dismissal of Tanges's complaint as time-barred by Connecticut General Statutes § 52-577a.
The District Court held that, under New York State's choice of law rules, a New York court would apply section 52-577a to this case as a part of the substantive law of Connecticut. Because the claim was brought more than 10 years after the injury-inflicting press left the possession and control of defendants, the District Court ruled that the claim was barred by Connecticut General Statutes § 52-577a (Tanges v Heidelberg N. Am., US Dist Ct, SD NY, Brieant, J., 97 Civ 00731). The court granted summary judgment and dismissed the complaint.
When plaintiff appealed, the United States Court of Appeals for [****5] the Second Circuit certified the following question to this Court: "Does Connecticut General Statutes § 52-577a bar Tanges's claim brought in the Southern District of New York?" (NY Const, art VI, § 3 [b] ; 22 NYCRR 500.17; see also, Local Rules of 2d Cir § 0.27.) Our answer is in the affirmative. Read The Full CaseNot a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.
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93 N.Y.2d 48 *; 710 N.E.2d 250 **; 687 N.Y.S.2d 604 ***; 1999 N.Y. LEXIS 219 ****
Dennis Tanges, Appellant, and Danbury Printing and Litho, Inc., Intervenor-Plaintiff, v. Heidelberg North America, Inc., et al., Respondents.
Prior History: [****1] Proceeding, pursuant to NY Constitution, article VI, § 3 (b) (9) and Rules of the Court of Appeals (22 NYCRR) § 500.17, to review a question certified to the New York State Court of Appeals by order of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The following question was certified by the United States Court of Appeals and accepted by the New York State Court of Appeals pursuant to section 500.17: "Does Connecticut General Statutes § 52-577a bar Tanges's claim brought in the Southern District of New York?"
product liability, choice of law, conflict of laws, cause of action, statute of repose, repose, accrued, statute of limitations, substantive law, time limit, forum state, American Conflicts Law, American Law, courts
Torts, Procedural Matters, Statute of Limitations, General Overview, Statute of Repose, Civil Procedure, Preliminary Considerations, Federal & State Interrelationships, Erie Doctrine, Choice of Law, Jurisdiction, Jurisdictional Sources, Statutory Sources, Governments, Legislation, Products Liability, Time Limitations