In products liability actions, in order to ensure that all potentially liable parties are included in a lawsuit, subrogation professionals often include strict liability claims against products sellers within the chain of distribution for a product. In West Virginia, the Legislature recently enacted legislation, W. Va. Code § 55-7-31, designed to protect “innocent” sellers from product liability lawsuits. The legislation states that, for actions involving a product sold on or after July 6, 2017, no product liability action – i.e. a strict liability action – can be maintained against a seller unless the seller meets one of the noted exceptions.
Many subrogation specialists are aware of the potential issues posed by the Sutton Doctrine. Decided by the Oklahoma Court of Appeals in 1975, Sutton v. Jondahl, 532 P.2d 478 (Okla. App. 1975), holds that, absent an express agreement to the contrary, a tenant is presumed to be a co-insured under the landlord’s fire insurance policy. Because subrogation is forbidden against one’s own insured, the Sutton Doctrine can bar landlord/tenant subrogation actions. West Virginia, like many states, however, has adopted its own approach to landlord/tenant subrogation.