For the purposes of this chapter, unless the context clearly indicates to the contrary:
(1) Product seller. "Product seller" means any person or entity that is engaged in the business of selling products, whether the sale is for resale, or for use or consumption. The term includes a manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor, or retailer of the relevant product. The term also includes a party who is in the business of leasing or bailing such products. The term "product seller" does not include:
(a) A seller of real property, unless that person is engaged in the mass production and sale of standardized dwellings or is otherwise a product seller;
(b) A provider of professional services who utilizes or sells products within the legally authorized scope of the professional practice of the provider;
(c) A commercial seller of used products who resells a product after use by a consumer or other product user: PROVIDED, That when it is resold, the used product is in essentially the same condition as when it was acquired for resale;
(d) A finance lessor who is not otherwise a product seller. A "finance lessor" is one who acts in a financial capacity, who is not a manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor, or retailer, and who leases a product without having a reasonable opportunity to inspect and discover defects in the product, under a lease arrangement in which the selection, possession, maintenance, and operation of the product are controlled by a person other than the lessor; and
(e) A licensed pharmacist who dispenses a prescription product manufactured by a commercial manufacturer pursuant to a prescription issued by a licensed prescribing practitioner if the claim against the pharmacist is based upon strict liability in tort or the implied warranty provisions under the uniform commercial code, Title 62A RCW, and if the pharmacist complies with recordkeeping requirements pursuant to chapters 18.64, 69.41, and 69.50 RCW, and related administrative rules as provided in RCW 7.72.040. Nothing in this subsection (1)(e) affects a pharmacist's liability under RCW 7.72.040(1).
(2) Manufacturer. "Manufacturer" includes a product seller who designs, produces, makes, fabricates, constructs, or remanufactures the relevant product or component part of a product before its sale to a user or consumer. The term also includes a product seller or entity not otherwise a manufacturer that holds itself out as a manufacturer.
A product seller acting primarily as a wholesaler, distributor, or retailer of a product may be a "manufacturer" but only to the extent that it designs, produces, makes, fabricates, constructs, or remanufactures the product for its sale. A product seller who performs minor assembly of a product in accordance with the instructions of the manufacturer shall not be deemed a manufacturer. A product seller that did not participate in the design of a product and that constructed the product in accordance with the design specifications of the claimant or another product seller shall not be deemed a manufacturer for the purposes of RCW 7.72.030(1)(a).
(3) Product. "Product" means any object possessing intrinsic value, capable of delivery either as an assembled whole or as a component part or parts, and produced for introduction into trade or commerce. Human tissue and organs, including human blood and its components, are excluded from this term.
The "relevant product" under this chapter is that product or its component part or parts, which gave rise to the product liability claim.
(4) Product liability claim. "Product liability claim" includes any claim or action brought for harm caused by the manufacture, production, making, construction, fabrication, design, formula, preparation, assembly, installation, testing, warnings, instructions, marketing, packaging, storage or labeling of the relevant product. It includes, but is not limited to, any claim or action previously based on: Strict liability in tort; negligence; breach of express or implied warranty; breach of, or failure to, discharge a duty to warn or instruct, whether negligent or innocent; misrepresentation, concealment, or nondisclosure, whether negligent or innocent; or other claim or action previously based on any other substantive legal theory except fraud, intentionally caused harm or a claim or action under the consumer protection act, chapter 19.86 RCW.
(5) Claimant. "Claimant" means a person or entity asserting a product liability claim, including a wrongful death action, and, if the claim is asserted through or on behalf of an estate, the term includes claimant's decedent. "Claimant" includes any person or entity that suffers harm. A claim may be asserted under this chapter even though the claimant did not buy the product from, or enter into any contractual relationship with, the product seller.
(6) Harm. "Harm" includes any damages recognized by the courts of this state: PROVIDED, That the term "harm" does not include direct or consequential economic loss under Title 62A RCW.
[1991 c 189 § 3; 1981 c 27 § 2.]
| Preamble -- 1981 c 27: "Tort reform in this state has for the most part been accomplished in the courts on a case-by-case basis. While this process has resulted in significant progress and the harshness of many common law doctrines has to some extent been ameliorated by decisional law, the legislature has from time to time felt it necessary to intervene to bring about needed reforms such as those contained in the 1973 comparative negligence act.|
The purpose of this amendatory act is to enact further reforms in the tort law to create a fairer and more equitable distribution of liability among parties at fault.
Of particular concern is the area of tort law known as product liability law. Sharply rising premiums for product liability insurance have increased the cost of consumer and industrial goods. These increases in premiums have resulted in disincentives to industrial innovation and the development of new products. High product liability premiums may encourage product sellers and manufacturers to go without liability insurance or pass the high cost of insurance on to the consuming public in general.
It is the intent of the legislature to treat the consuming public, the product seller, the product manufacturer, and the product liability insurer in a balanced fashion in order to deal with these problems.
It is the intent of the legislature that the right of the consumer to recover for injuries sustained as a result of an unsafe product not be unduly impaired. It is further the intent of the legislature that retail businesses located primarily in the state of Washington be protected from the substantially increasing product liability insurance costs and unwarranted exposure to product liability litigation." [1981 c 27 § 1.]