Section 6-5-751

Legislative findings and objectives.

(a) The Legislature finds that the recruitment, establishment, development, and growth of the commercial aviation aircraft manufacturing industry in the State of Alabama is important to the economic health of the state and its agencies and institutions and to the general health, welfare, and prosperity of its citizens. The Legislature finds that it is reasonable and important to the national and international companies and businesses involved in the commercial aviation aircraft manufacturing industry locating or considering locating in the State of Alabama to expect that civil liability actions against them, if any, will be governed by tort principles generally accepted in other jurisdictions outside this state that are home to such companies and businesses, but which are consistent with the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, and this state's public policy. The Legislature finds that the principles addressed in this article, namely, the statute of limitations, the statute of repose, forum non conveniens, and contribution among tortfeasors, while incorporating concepts that are generally accepted in state, federal, and international jurisdictions outside this state, are treated in this article in a manner not inconsistent with the provisions and requirements of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, and Alabama public policy and are rationally and reasonably related to the Legislature's objectives and regulatory scheme.

(b) The Legislature further finds that the commercial aviation aircraft manufacturing industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the United States and the world and that the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States and other airworthiness authorities impose upon the industry comprehensive, rigorous standards and requirements governing quality control, safety, and functionality, all of which are in the public interest. The Legislature finds that the classifications contained in this article that distinguish the unique, highly regulated commercial aviation aircraft manufacturing industry are rationally and reasonably related to the Legislature's regulatory scheme and are valid.

(c) This article bears a reasonable relationship to the proposed legislative objective of limiting the period of liability for commercial aviation aircraft manufacturers whose work on the aircraft generally ends at the time of delivery to the first purchaser or upon replacing or adding a component part that is alleged to have been a proximate cause of an accident. While protecting such manufacturers during a remote period beginning long after the completion of their work, the article imposes no unfair burden on the injured, deceased, or damaged party because a party is still afforded an avenue of legal redress from others who are more likely to have been responsible for or could have prevented such injury, death, or damage.

(d) It is thus the legislative objective to provide for the abolishing of rights of action, with certain exceptions, against commercial aviation aircraft manufacturers that would have accrued after the passage of 12 years from delivery to the first purchaser or from replacing or adding a component part that is alleged to have been a proximate cause of an accident, and all such actions will be forever barred without relief to a claimant. Where causes of action accrue during the 12-year repose period, an action may be brought within two years of accrual even though such action may be filed beyond the 12-year period. This objective permits all injured, deceased, or damaged parties a period of two years to file suit on a cause of action accruing within the repose period, which would in certain circumstances permit the filing of an action up to 14 years after delivery or replacement.

(e) The legislative objective of abolishing potential liabilities of commercial aviation aircraft manufacturers after the passage of a sufficient period of time from the delivery of the aircraft to the first purchaser or from the replacement or addition of a component part that is alleged to have been a proximate cause of an accident is rationally and reasonably related to the permissible state objective of removing responsibility from, and preventing suit against, such highly regulated manufacturers who are the least likely to be responsible or at fault for defects, deficiencies, and failures that cause injury, death, or damage long after their work is completed. The Legislature has deemed that, after a lapse of time of more than 12 years without incident, (1) the burden on the courts to adjudicate, (2) the complexities of proof with the obstacle of faded memories, (3) the unavailability of witnesses and lost evidence, (4) the opportunity for intervening factors such as acts or omissions of others involving inadequate maintenance, improper use, alterations, improvements, and other negligence, (5) changes in standards for design, manufacture, and assembly, (6) changes in regulations and codes, (7) and the burden on manufacturers who may have no control over the aircraft after their work is completed to disprove responsibility after acceptance and years of possession by other parties, all weigh more heavily in favor of repose or the abolishing of rights of action against manufacturers than in favor of allowing adjudication of the few, if any, meritorious claims that might have accrued thereafter.

(f) The Legislature finds that the burden of tenuous claims upon both the courts and the commercial aviation aircraft manufacturing industry sufficiently vindicates the denial of a right of action after the passage of a period of 12 years under the circumstances and with the exceptions stated herein.

(Act 2013-73, p. 148, §2.)