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The period of limitation with respect to strict product liability claims begins to run at the date of injury and that the duration of such period is that found in N.Y. C.P.L.R. 214 (4) and (5) under which there is a limitation of three years in actions for personal injury and property damage. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals of New York's holding to the contrary in Mendel v. Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co., 25 N.Y.2d 340 (1969), must be overruled.
Defendant Bock Laundry Machine Company manufactured and marketed a contrifuge extractor for use in apartment house laundry rooms and commercial laundromats to spin water out of laundry after washing and preparatory to its being placed in a dryer. In Victorson the extractor was sold in 1948 and the injury occurred in 1969; in Rivera the sale was in 1959, the injury in 1967; and in Brown the sale was in 1955 and the injury in 1965. Respondents, Livia Victorson et al., filed these three cases out of claims asserted against the defendant, manufacturer of allegedly defective products by remote users. The theory of liability was called strict products liability. The Appellate Divisions have properly unraveled the procedural complexities, presenting for our determination, the questions as to when the Statute of Limitations began to run and for what period it continued. Defendants in three separate cases appealed the decisions of the court of appeals which held that claims for strict products liability accrued at the time of injury and that, therefore, the three-year statute of limitations under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 214 (4) and (5) applied.
Did the appellate court err in holding that claims for strict liability accrued at the time of injury thus the 3-year statute limitations under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 214 (4) and (5) applied?
The court affirmed the appellate division's judgment, holding that strict products liability sounds in tort rather than in contract and thus, the tort statute of limitations applied. Therefore, the court concluded that the three-year period of limitation with respect to plaintiffs' causes of action for personal injuries stemming from defendants alleged defective products began to run at the date of injury.