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Bylsma v. Willey

Supreme Court of Utah

December 1, 2017

Richard Bylsma and Melinda Bylsma, Appellants,
v.
R.C. Willey, a Utah Corporation, Appellee.

         On Direct Appeal

         Third District, West Jordan The Honorable Barry G. Lawrence No. 100414866

          Daniel F. Bertch, Kevin K. Robson, Salt Lake City, for appellants

          Jaryl L. Rencher, Clay W. Stucki, Benjamin Lusty, Salt Lake City, for appellee

          CHIEF JUSTICE DURRANT authored the opinion of the Court, in which JUSTICE DURHAM and JUSTICE HIMONAS joined. ASSOCIATE CHIEF JUSTICE LEE filed a concurring opinion, in which JUSTICE PEARCE joined.

          OPINION

          DURRANT CHIEF JUSTICE.

         Introduction

         ¶ 1 This appeal requires us to consider whether the Liability Reform Act (LRA), Utah Code sections 78B-5-817 through 823, immunizes passive retailers from products liability claims in cases where the manufacturer is a named party. Richard and Melinda Bylsma asserted claims for strict products liability, breach of warranty, and contract rescission against R.C. Willey. The district court dismissed the tort and warranty claims under the "passive retailer" doctrine as articulated by our court of appeals in Sanns v. Butterfield Ford.[1] R.C. Willey then stipulated to liability on the rescission claim and tendered payment of the purchase price. Both parties sought an award of attorney fees, but the district court denied their requests because it concluded that neither party had prevailed.

         ¶ 2 We conclude that the LRA does not create immunity for retailers, whether "passive" or not, and we therefore overrule our court of appeals' conclusion to the contrary in Sanns. In so doing, we hold that the LRA does not upend our longstanding precedent that retailers-just as distributors, wholesalers, manufacturers, and any others in the chain of distribution-are strictly liable for breaching their duty not to sell a dangerously defective product. To the contrary, the LRA reveals the legislature's intent to specifically preserve our strict products liability doctrine. We thus harmonize the relevant statutory language, avoid conflating the distinct legal doctrines of strict products liability and negligence, and honor the legislature's intent to retain the essential tenets of our strict products liability doctrine.

         ¶ 3 We accordingly reject the passive retailer doctrine and reverse the district court's dismissal of the Bylsmas' claims against R.C. Willey for strict products liability and breach of warranty. We also vacate the district court's decision declining to award attorney fees to the Bylsmas, and we remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         Background

         ¶ 4 Melinda Bylsma purchased a reclining chair with a foot-massage attachment from R.C. Willey as a gift for her husband, Richard Bylsma.[2] Rather than delivering a soothing massage, the unit crushed his right foot.

         ¶ 5 The Bylsmas brought suit against R.C. Willey and Human Touch, the alleged manufacturer of the chair. They asserted three claims against R.C. Willey. First, they claimed that the chair was "unreasonably dangerous" in light of the risk of injury it presented. Second, they asserted a claim for breach of implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). Finally, they sought rescission of their contract and restitution of the purchase price.

         ¶ 6 After more than a year of litigation, R.C. Willey moved to dismiss the Bylsmas' tort and warranty claims on the basis of its alleged immunity under the so-called "passive retailer" doctrine recognized in Sanns v. Butterfield Ford.[3] The Bylsmas opposed that motion. They challenged the passive retailer doctrine as incompatible with the Liability Reform Act (LRA), Utah Code sections 78B-5-817 through 823, and as infringing their rights under the Open Courts and Uniform Operation of Laws Clauses of the Utah Constitution.

         ¶ 7 The district court granted R.C. Willey's motion based on the passive retailer doctrine, dismissing the Bylsmas' tort and warranty claims, leaving only the claim for rescission of the contract. R.C. Willey then stipulated to liability on the rescission claim and tendered payment of the purchase price.

         ¶ 8 Both R.C. Willey and the Bylsmas sought to recover attorney fees under the terms of the security agreement entered into between them. Although that agreement expressly authorized only "costs of collection" incurred by R.C. Willey, the Bylsmas asserted a reciprocal right to fees under Utah Code section 78B-5-826. R.C. Willey opposed the Bylsmas' motion and also filed a cross-motion seeking an award of its own attorney fees. The district court denied the fee requests because it found that neither the Bylsmas nor R.C. Willey qualified as a "prevailing party."

         ¶ 9 The Bylsmas filed a timely notice of appeal, claiming error in the dismissal of their claims under the passive retailer doctrine and in the district court's refusal to grant their request for attorney fees. We have jurisdiction under Utah Code section 78A-3-102(3)(j).

         Standard of Review

         ¶ 10 The Bylsmas raise two issues on appeal. The first is whether the district court erred in dismissing their tort and warranty claims. "We review a decision granting a motion to dismiss 'for correctness, granting no deference to the decision of the district court.' In so doing, we 'accept the plaintiff's description of the facts alleged in the complaint to be true, but we need not accept extrinsic facts not pleaded nor need we accept legal conclusions in contradiction to the pleaded facts.'"[4]

         ¶ 11 The second issue is whether the district court erred in denying the Bylsmas' motion for attorney fees under the reciprocal attorney fee statute, Utah Code section 78B-5-826. We review legal questions regarding the availability of attorney fees for correctness.[5]Where a statute or contract provides that attorney fees are to be awarded to a "prevailing party, " we review a district court's determination of whether a party "prevailed" for an abuse of discretion.[6]

         Analysis

         ¶ 12 We begin by reversing the district court's dismissal of the Bylsmas' strict products liability and breach of warranty claims. We do so based on our rejection of the court of appeals' conclusion in Sanns v. Butterfield Ford[7] and its progeny[8] that "passive retailers" are immunized from liability under the LRA in cases where the manufacturer is named in the suit. We correct the Sanns court's misreading of the LRA by noting that, because the statute preserves our strict products liability doctrine, retailers like R.C. Willey-along with all others in a product's chain of distribution-are strictly liable for breaching their duty not to sell a dangerously defective product.[9]

         ¶ 13 We then provide guidance to the district court for how to proceed with these claims on remand. In particular, we clarify that the LRA's requirement that the fact-finder apportion "fault, " which includes strict liability, does not require apportionment of fault among strictly liable defendants. Instead, the LRA requires that strictly liable defendants who all breached the same duty (a duty not to sell the same dangerously defective product) be treated as a single unit for purposes of fault allocation. We clarify that, to avoid conflating negligence and strict liability, the proper approach is one of "relative causation" rather than "relative fault."

         ¶ 14 Finally, we address the Bylsmas' argument regarding attorney fees. We vacate the district court's decision not to award attorney fees to the Bylsmas, first because our conclusion about the viability of the Bylsmas' tort and warranty claims necessarily changes the "prevailing party" calculus, but more fundamentally because we conclude that the district court erroneously considered whether the Bylsmas prevailed on claims other than the claim that was eligible for fee-shifting.

         I. The District Court Erred in Dismissing the Bylsmas' Tort and Warranty Claims Against R.C. Willey Because the LRA Does Not Create Immunity for Passive Retailers

         ¶ 15 This case presents our first opportunity to explain the interaction between strict products liability[10] and the LRA. We first discuss the LRA, concluding that both its text and context demonstrate the legislature's intent to retain the essential aspects of our strict products liability doctrine. We then discuss the nature of strict products liability, illuminating the key aspects of that doctrine that must continue to exist if we are to honor the legislative intent to retain it. With these principles in mind, we turn to an assessment of R.C. Willey's argument regarding passive retailer immunity, concluding that the LRA forecloses any such immunity. Finally, we provide guidance for the district court on remand by clarifying that the LRA does not require that the fact-finder apportion fault among strictly liable defendants who are liable for breaching the same duty. Instead, the LRA requires that strictly liable defendants who have breached the same duty be treated as a unit in the apportionment.

         A. The Legislature Enacted the LRA to Eliminate Joint and Several Liability, but It Did Not Intend to Eliminate Our Strict Products Liability Doctrine

         ¶ 16 We first explain how the LRA demonstrates that the legislature expressly intended to retain the key aspects of our strict products liability doctrine. We discern the legislature's intent by examining the history surrounding the LRA's passage, analyzing the statute's text, and considering its relationship with related statutory provisions.[11]

         ¶ 17 The LRA was expressly designed to eliminate joint and several liability.[12] Prior to the LRA, the Comparative Negligence Act stated that "the relative degrees of fault of the joint tort-feasors shall be considered in determining their prorata shares, solely for the purpose of determining their rights of contribution among themselves, each remaining severally liable to the injured person for the whole injury as at common law."[13] This was specifically repealed and replaced by the LRA-"An Act Relating to the Judicial Code; Modifying Provisions Relating to Comparative Negligence; Specifying Duties of Jurors and Judges; Abolishing Joint and Several Liability and Rights of Contribution Among Defendants; and Defining Certain Terms."[14] The LRA replaced joint and several liability with the requirement that "[n]o defendant is liable to any person seeking recovery for any amount in excess of the proportion of fault attributed to that defendant."[15] The legislature could have likewise ended strict products liability. Instead, it specifically chose to retain this common law doctrine.[16]

         ¶ 18 The LRA defines "fault" as "any actionable breach of legal duty, act, or omission proximately causing or contributing to injury or damages" and expressly includes within its definition of "fault" the claims that can be asserted based on a defective product: strict liability, breach of express or implied warranty, and products liability.[17] That same definition also includes the defenses against such claims: "misuse, modification, or abuse of a product."[18] These common law terms of art are used to define a statutory term- "fault." They are not themselves redefined or modified in any way by the LRA, meaning that the legislature intended to incorporate and preserve the claims and defenses of products liability as they were understood.[19] This conclusion is reinforced by another statutory scheme, the Product Liability Act (PLA).

         ¶ 19 The PLA's provisions presuppose the continued existence of a common law products liability doctrine because, while it adds a specific statute of limitation, [20] a definition of "unreasonably dangerous, "[21] a description of what constitutes a defect, [22] and recognizes that a product liability action may be filed "against a product manufacturer, wholesaler[, ] or retailer, "[23] it does not itself create a products liability cause of action. Just like the LRA, the PLA references our products liability doctrine without changing or redefining any of the fundamental principles of that doctrine.[24] These principles, which we describe below, have been specifically left untouched by the legislature and form the basis for these two statutory schemes. Nothing in the LRA or the PLA is either an express or implicit repudiation of products liability. Indeed, as we discuss below, both the LRA and the PLA are wholly consistent with our traditional strict products liability doctrine.

         ¶ 20 Because we interpret the provisions of a statute in the context of "the language of the act as a whole, the act's operation, and its purpose, "[25] our approach to reconciling strict products liability with the LRA must begin with our understanding of the legislature's clearly expressed intent to preserve strict products liability as it was understood in our law. To understand how to preserve the key aspects of our long-standing doctrine of strict products liability, it is first necessary to understand our strict products liability doctrine. We now turn to a discussion of how our products liability doctrine came into existence and how it has operated for the past several decades. We then interpret the LRA in such a way as to preserve the fundamental aspects of that doctrine.

         B. The Key Aspects of Strict Products Liability that the Legislature Intended to Retain Through the Passage of the LRA

         ¶ 21 We now discuss the history of our strict products liability doctrine in some detail in order to illustrate the essential aspects of the doctrine. Strict products liability is a judicially created doctrine that began to take root in Utah at least as early as 1953.[26] In 1979, we formally adopted section 402A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts, which states:

(1) One who sells any product in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer or to his property is subject to liability for physical harm thereby caused to the ultimate user or consumer, or to his property, if
(a) the seller is engaged in the business of selling such a product, and
(b) it is expected to and does reach the user or consumer without substantial change in the condition in which it is sold.
(2) The rule stated in Subsection (1) applies although
(a) the seller has exercised all possible care in the preparation and sale of his product, and
(b) the user or consumer has not bought the product from or entered into any contractual relation with the seller.[27]

         ¶ 22 We adopted this doctrine to advance several compelling policy goals. "The liability was created judicially because of the economic and social need for the protection of consumers in an increasingly complex and mechanized society, and because of the limitations in the negligence and warranty remedies."[28] The doctrine operated to ensure "that the costs of injuries resulting from defective products are borne by the manufacturer that put such products on the market rather than by the injured persons who are powerless to protect themselves."[29]

         ¶ 23 There are three key aspects of our strict products liability doctrine that work together to achieve its goals. First, it imposes liability for harm caused by defective products without any regard to the culpability of the defendants, relieving the plaintiff of any requirement to demonstrate negligence. Second, it imposes this liability on every "seller" of the product-manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, and any other party involved in the product's chain of distribution-in order to ensure that a plaintiff will have a meaningful remedy. Third, it permits an "innocent" non-manufacturer (one who sold the product and was therefore held strictly liable) to recover its losses from the manufacturer by way of indemnity. The interplay between these three factors ensured both that the injured plaintiff would obtain a full recovery and that the costs were ultimately borne by those parties who "are in a position to absorb the loss by distributing it as a cost of doing business."[30] We next discuss each of these aspects in greater detail to demonstrate how our reading of the LRA is necessary to preserve these key aspects of our products liability doctrine.

         1. Strict products liability eliminates any need for the plaintiff to demonstrate negligence in order to recover

         ¶ 24 The doctrine of products liability emerged "because of the limitations in the negligence and warranty remedies."[31] Indeed, "[t]he strict liability doctrine achieves its goals by 'reliev[ing] an injured plaintiff of many of the onerous evidentiary burdens inherent in a negligence cause of action.'"[32] These burdens were described by the Supreme Court of New Mexico:

It is often difficult, or even impossible, to prove negligence on the part of the manufacturer or supplier. True, res ipsa loquitur often comes to the aid of the injured party. But it is normally regarded as a form of circumstantial evidence, and this means that there must be a logical inference of negligence which is sufficiently strong to let the case go to the jury. This is often not present, and strict liability eliminates the need of the proof.[33]

         "An injured person . . . is not ordinarily in a position to refute . . . evidence [of due care] or identify the cause of the defect, for he can hardly be familiar with the manufacturing process as the manufacturer himself is."[34] Thus, as product liability developed over time, "the traditional elements of negligence[] were stripped from the remedy, and a new tort emerged which extended liability for defective product design and manufacture beyond negligence but short of absolute liability."[35]

         ¶ 25 Accordingly, in adopting section 402A of the Restatement, we deliberately created a cause of action based in neither contract nor negligence, but rather strict liability. Strict liability is, by definition, "liability without fault" or, in other words, liability without "blameworthiness in a moral sense."[36] "[C]ulpable conduct is not at issue in strict liability, only causation."[37] Strict liability "does not depend on proof of negligence or intent to do harm but . . . is based instead on a duty to compensate the harms proximately caused by the activity or behavior subject to the liability rule."[38]

         ¶ 26 In the context of strict products liability, we impose on a seller of a defective product the duty to compensate the harms resulting from the use of that product. The liability is "strict" because a seller of a defective product is liable even if "the seller has exercised all possible care in the preparation and sale of his product."[39] The seller's duty is not to sell a defective product-there is no analysis of due care or preventative measures. There is no room in a strict liability regime for the consideration of culpability- indeed, to do so would not only destroy what makes strict liability "strict, " but also, in the context of products liability, undermine the very purposes of the doctrine. This aspect of our strict products liability doctrine goes hand-in-hand with the second-that liability is imposed on all sellers within a product's chain of distribution.

         2. Strict products liability imposes the same liability on each party involved in a product's chain of distribution

         ¶ 27 Products liability imposes liability on anyone "who sells any product in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer or to his property" so long as "the seller is engaged in the business of selling such a product."[40] This includes "any manufacturer" and "any wholesale or retail dealer or distributor."[41]Thus, so-called passive retailers and wholesalers are liable to the exact same extent as the manufacturer. The reason for including all sellers of a product within the ambit of strict products liability is two-fold: first, it ensures that the injured plaintiff has a party from whom she can recover and, second, it protects future consumers by incentivizing manufacturers to create safe products and retailers to deal with responsible manufacturers.

         ¶ 28 The imposition of strict liability on all sellers ensures that an injured plaintiff is "provided with an alternative remedy in the event that the manufacturer is insolvent, out of business, or so remote that it is either impossible to obtain jurisdiction or unduly burdensome to bring suit."[42] By holding each seller of a defective product equally and strictly liable, a plaintiff is guaranteed that at least one party- most likely the local retailer-will be known to the plaintiff, amenable to suit, and likely solvent at the time of judgment.[43] To allow retailers to avoid liability, regardless of the manufacturers' solvency, could foreclose any recovery at all and allow retailers to benefit from the sale of a defective product without bearing any of the associated cost. Strict products liability was specifically designed to ensure that an injured plaintiff's recovery was not based on or otherwise limited by whether one particular entity in a product's chain of distribution, such as a foreign manufacturer, would be solvent and amenable to suit. Accordingly, the doctrine permits recovery for injuries caused by defective products against the local retailer, importer, or wholesaler to the same extent as against the manufacturer.

         ¶ 29 The second policy goal served by the imposition of liability on all sellers of a product is to create incentives that protect future consumers. As the Wisconsin Supreme Court stated, "one of the primary policies underlying products liability law is to encourage manufacturers to produce safer products."[44] Products liability does this by imposing on manufacturers the burden of paying for the injuries caused by their defective products. But this incentive scheme falls apart when the manufacturer cannot be held liable.[45] Accordingly, we hold passive sellers as liable as the manufacturers in order to incentivize the sellers "to select reputable and responsible manufacturers who generally design and construct safe products and who generally accept financial responsibility for injuries caused by their defective products."[46] Thus, we ensure "that the costs of injuries resulting from defective products are borne by the [sellers] that put such products on the market rather than by the injured persons who are powerless to protect themselves."[47]

         ¶ 30 Ultimately, when we adopted the doctrine of strict products liability, we also decided that retailers and manufacturers "should absorb the inevitable losses which must result in a complex civilization from the use of their products, because they are in the better position to do so, and through their prices to pass such losses on to the community at large."[48] We enacted this policy by creating a strict liability regime that imposes liability on each party within a product's chain of distribution without requiring proof of any wrongful or negligent conduct. By so doing, we have also made non-manufacturers a conduit through which liability flows to the manufacturer, as discussed below.

         3. Strict products liability employs implied indemnity to allocate the burden of loss as between defendants

         ¶ 31 Courts have recognized the potential "inequity of requiring a retailer or distributor to bear the cost of injury created by a manufacturer"[49] and have held that, at least as between a manufacturer and retailer, "the obligation ought to be discharged by the more culpable party."[50] In order to alleviate this potential inequity while still providing injured parties with a viable remedy, we have adopted the doctrine of implied indemnity.

         ¶ 32 Implied indemnity is a doctrine applying in a limited number of scenarios that shifts the entire burden of a plaintiff's loss from a non-culpable party to a culpable party.[51] This is the only place where culpability factors into the products liability equation at all- on the back end, after the plaintiff has fully recovered. A right to implied indemnity "is based on a theory of quasi-contract or contract implied in law"[52] and flows from "the relationship between the parties."[53] It applies in principal/agent[54] and strict products liability situations, [55] where principles of vicarious liability impose on a non-culpable party the liability incurred by a culpable one.[56] In the context of strict products liability, "[t]hrough the equitable concept of implied indemnity, the retailer-indemnitee is prevented from being held derivatively or vicariously liable for the wrongful act of the manufacturer-indemnitor" because the retailer can pass its loss along to the manufacturer.[57]

         ¶ 33 Accordingly, our strict products liability doctrine allows "strict liability against 'downstream' parties (without proof of fault) in order to allow them to act as a conduit to pass liability 'upstream' to the manufacturer."[58] And this "'upstream' indemnification fosters the policy behind strict products liability by placing final responsibility for injuries caused by a defective product upon the entity initially responsible for placing that product into the stream of commerce."[59] Indeed, our doctrine has embraced the notion that "in the absence of imposition of liability on the 'upstream' manufacturer, the manufacturer would have little economic incentive to remove a defective product from the market."[60] Thus, whereas the purpose of products liability generally is to shift the burden of loss from an injured party to the sellers of a defective product as a collective whole, the purpose of implied indemnity is to shift the burden from an individual passive retailer-who bears no fault in the usual sense of the word-onto the party responsible for the defect, the manufacturer.[61]

         ¶ 34 There is a crucial distinction between the liability involved in a products liability claim and that in an implied indemnity claim. As discussed, a products liability claim can be asserted by a plaintiff against any of the sellers of a particular defective product, and the plaintiff is not required to show culpability on the part of any of the defendants. An implied indemnity claim, on the other hand, permits a seller of a product who was held strictly liable to recover its loss from a more culpable seller-typically the manufacturer.[62] An implied indemnity claim, which has nothing to do with either the plaintiff's claim or her recovery, is the only context in which the culpability of a seller of a defective product enters into the strict liability picture. Thus, all sellers of a defective product are equally and strictly liable vis-à-vis the plaintiff-liability without fault-but are liable vis-à-vis other sellers "based upon their respective culpability"[63]-fault-based liability.

         ¶ 35 These three aspects of our products liability doctrine- liability without fault, imposed equally upon all sellers of a product, with recourse available for a passive retailer to shift the burden of loss onto a manufacturer-are the long-established foundational tenets of our products liability doctrine. Together, they honor the overarching purposes of products liability: to protect consumers and shift the risk of loss onto those best equipped to bear it. We next turn to interpreting the LRA in a way that respects the legislative intent to preserve this doctrine.

         C. The Passive Retailer Doctrine Cannot Stand Because It Is Inconsistent with the LRA and Our Strict Products Liability Doctrine

         ¶ 36 We first articulate R.C. Willey's argument that the LRA should be read to create passive retailer immunity from products liability claims. We then articulate the similar reasoning employed by the court of appeals in Sanns v. Butterfield Ford.[64] We also set forth the argument advanced by the concurrence. We then describe how these arguments ultimately fail and, in particular, the ways each fails to preserve the essential aspects of our strict products liability doctrine.

         ¶ 37 The Bylsmas assert a claim against R.C. Willey for strict products liability, [65] alleging that the chair sold by R.C. Willey contained an "unreasonably dangerous" defective condition that was present upon its sale and that caused them damages.[66] R.C. Willey asserts that this claim must be dismissed because the LRA creates immunity for passive retailers in cases where the manufacturer is also named in the suit. We first describe the passive retailer doctrine, which is largely driven by our court of appeals' decision in Sanns. We then explain why this doctrine conflicts with the core elements of our strict products liability doctrine, and so is incompatible with the legislature's intent to retain that doctrine.

         ¶ 38 We start with the statutory text that drives R.C. Willey's passive retailer argument. As discussed above, the LRA sets "the maximum amount for which a defendant may be liable to any person seeking recovery" at "that percentage or proportion of the damages equivalent to the percentage or proportion of fault attributed to that defendant, "[67] and it provides that "[n]o defendant is liable to any person seeking recovery for any amount in excess of the proportion of fault attributed to that defendant."[68]

         ¶ 39 R.C. Willey argues that these provisions mandate passive retailer immunity. Because a passive retailer had a common law right of indemnity against the manufacturer, as discussed above, R.C. Willey asserts that the equitable "percentage or proportion of fault" to be attributed to such a passive retailer under Utah Code section 78B-5-820(1) must always be zero. And because no defendant may be liable "for any amount in excess of the proportion of fault attributed to that defendant, "[69] the LRA (in R.C. Willey's view) effectively codifies a principle of immunity for passive retailers.

         ¶ 40 R.C. Willey supports this argument by contending that the LRA expressly forecloses an action for implied indemnity by the retailer against the manufacturer. It first cites Utah Code section 78B-5-820(2), which provides that "[a] defendant is not entitled to contribution from any other person." It also relies on Utah Code section 78B-5-823, which states that "[n]othing in Sections 78B-5-817 through 78B-5-822" of the Act "affects or impairs any right to indemnity or contribution arising from statute, contract, or agreement." Together, in R.C. Willey's view, these provisions combine to "establish[] a scheme by which subsequent lawsuits to fairly distribute liability among joint tortfeasors" are prohibited.

         ¶ 41 This argument asks us to read the statute's reference to "contribution" as encompassing all subsequent claims for equitable distribution of liability-including implied indemnity. R.C. Willey claims that the distinction between "contribution" and "indemnity" "faded" over time in the case law, citing National Service Industries v. B.W. Norton Manufacturing Co.[70] And it accordingly urges us to read the LRA's prohibition of claims for "contribution" to encompass "claims for implied indemnity and common law contribution." It also views that approach as reinforced by Utah Code section 78B-5-823 because that provision preserves only rights of "indemnity or contribution arising from statute, contract, or agreement, "[71] so R.C. Willey views it as prohibiting (by negative implication) any rights of indemnity or contribution arising in the common law.

         ¶ 42 R.C. Willey further argues that if the retailer lacks the ability to protect itself in a separate action for implied indemnity, it will inevitably be left with liability in excess of its proportionate share. Thus, R.C. Willey insists that passive retailer immunity is essential to preserving the core elements of the LRA. It claims that such immunity is the only way to preserve the legislative prohibition on a defendant being liable for any amount exceeding its equitable proportion of fault.

         ¶ 43 The Sanns decision followed a similar line of analysis. There, the court of appeals asserted that the purpose of the LRA was to "attempt to ensure that parties are not held unfairly liable to an extent greater than their degree of fault."[72] And, citing an opinion of this court invoking legislative history, the court of appeals also suggested that the Act was aimed at "basic fairness, " or, in other words, at assuring that a "defendant ought to be on the hook only for its own percentage of damages, but ought not be the guarantor for everyone else's damages."[73]

         ¶ 44 For this reason, the Sanns court interpreted the LRA to foreclose product liability for a mere passive retailer in a suit in which the manufacturer is named. It based that decision on two core elements of the LRA: (a) the proviso that no tortfeasor is liable for any amount in excess of the proportion of fault attributed to that defendant; and (b) the purported elimination of the right to assert a common law claim for contribution or implied indemnity.[74]

         ¶ 45 Because, in the Sanns court's view, "[t]he strict liability 'fault' . . ., if any, lies with the manufacturer" and not the passive retailer, the passive retailer doctrine is necessary to protect the retailer from being saddled "with some or all of the fault actually belonging" to the manufacturer.[75] Thus, in a case in which both the manufacturer and a passive retailer are named as defendants, the Sanns court held that the latter is entitled to dismissal on immunity grounds. "[A]s long as [the manufacturer] is present in the suit, " in other words, the Sanns court held that there was "no reason to require" the passive retailer "to incur the time and expense of defending" against a product liability suit.[76]

         ¶ 46 The concurrence in this case makes a different argument for interpreting these same provisions of the LRA, but its approach, too, fails to maintain the essential aspects of our strict products liability doctrine. The concurrence agrees that the LRA forecloses passive retailer immunity, but the approach it advocates would essentially create a more expansive form of retailer immunity. The concurrence argues that each entity in a product's chain of distribution must be apportioned a separate amount of "fault." Under this view, the fact-finder must apportion fault among equally strictly liable defendants-multiple defendants who all breached the same duty not to sell a dangerously defective product. Like R.C. Willey and the Sanns court, the concurrence also reads the LRA to foreclose actions for implied indemnity.

         ¶ 47 We reject these approaches as being incompatible with the legislature's express retention in the LRA of our strict products liability doctrine. As discussed above, there are three central interrelated principles that make up our strict products liability doctrine: (1) the liability involved is strict and not based on culpable conduct; (2) from the point of view of the plaintiff, this liability is imposed equally on each party within a product's chain of distribution; and (3) non-culpable sellers of a defective product may seek indemnity from the manufacturer. These are the doctrines that were specifically preserved and incorporated into both the LRA and the PLA.

         ¶ 48 Despite this legislative intent to retain the strict products liability doctrine, the passive retailer doctrine and the concurrence's version of passive retailer immunity eviscerate each one of its essential elements: they conflate strict liability with negligence, importing notions of culpability that are not only foreign to a strict liability regime, but are also conceptually incompatible with any definition of strict liability. The passive retailer doctrine distinguishes between "passive" and "active" sellers of products, but doing so is incompatible with our adoption of section 402A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts and its equal imposition of strict liability on all sellers of a defective product. Finally, these arguments rely on an incorrect premise: each equates the doctrines of contribution and implied indemnity, failing to recognize the distinction between both the bases and applications of each doctrine, and accordingly concludes that they have both been foreclosed by the LRA.

         1. The passive retailer doctrine incorporates considerations of culpability into a strict liability doctrine

         ¶ 49 As discussed above, when we adopted section 402A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts, which sets forth the doctrine of strict products liability, we adopted its strict liability regime for products liability claims.[77] Because strict liability is, by definition, "liability without fault, "[78] "culpable conduct is not at issue in strict liability, only causation."[79] Having adopted section 402A, we impose liability on sellers even if "the seller has exercised all possible care in the preparation and sale of his product."[80] The seller's duty is not to sell a defective product-any sale of a defective product breaches this duty, regardless of the care taken by the seller. There is no understanding of strict products liability that makes liability turn on the culpability of a retailer or manufacturer. And yet, this is exactly what the passive retailer doctrine does.

         ¶ 50 In creating the passive retailer doctrine, the Sanns court purported to recognize the difference between strict liability and negligence, [81] but its analysis reveals that it failed to apply the distinction. The court reasoned that, because "[the passive retailer] did not participate in the design, manufacture, engineering, testing, or assembly" of the product, "[t]he strict liability 'fault' . . ., if any, lies with the manufacturer, not with . . . the passive retailer."[82] The court then concluded that because the LRA "eliminated all aspects of joint and several liability, . . . strict liability cannot be apportioned to . . . a passive seller[ ] and also to" a manufacturer.[83]

         ¶ 51 But this analysis mixes negligence and strict liability by implicitly assuming that "fault" under the LRA-a term that incorporates but does not redefine strict products liability- necessarily depends on culpability. No provision of the LRA, however, requires an analysis of culpability instead of strict liability. "Fault" under the LRA encompasses a number of different legal duties, from a duty of due care (negligence)[84] to a duty "to refrain from committing intentional torts."[85] The only "fault" at issue in strict products liability cases-the only "actionable breach of [a] legal duty"[86]-is a breach of the duty not to sell a defective product. There is no culpability involved, no duty of care that must be evaluated. A seller of a product breaches its duty by selling a defective product, not by failing to take action to prevent either the defect or the sale of the product in the first place.[87] The inclusion of strict liability within the definition of "fault" in the LRA does not mean that strict liability claims must turn on principles of negligence, as the Sanns court implicitly concluded. Instead, the Sanns court was correct when it noted that the legislature's "use of strict liability in this statutory definition should be viewed only as a cause of action subject to the [LRA], rather than changing the traditional use of the term fault to somehow include strict liability, a liability concept that is unconcerned with fault in the usual sense of culpability."[88]

         ¶ 52 It is vitally important to recognize that the LRA does not redefine the doctrine of strict products liability. Instead, it includes within its definition of "fault" the breach of a legal duty. This is completely consistent with strict products liability, which the statute specifically preserves. The duty at issue in strict products liability cases is the duty not to sell a defective product. Thus "fault" under the LRA does not mean only breach of the duty of due care- negligence-but also includes non-negligent breaches of a duty- such as the duty not to sell a defective product, which is a duty shared by all sellers of products.

         ¶ 53 Accordingly, the Sanns court's reasoning redefined strict products liability without legislative direction or intent and failed to recognize that there is no distinction between the conduct of retailers and manufacturers that subjects them to liability, thus contradicting our prior opinions on this topic[89] as well as the LRA itself. The essential conduct-the "fault"-is whether an unreasonably dangerous product was sold, and this inquiry does not turn on whether a party could have acted to prevent the injury. There is no distinction between retailers' and manufacturers' conduct as it is the same conduct-selling a product.

         ¶ 54 The problem with the Sanns court's approach is that the LRA specifically preserves strict products liability. Yet stripped of its imposition of "strict" liability-liability without fault, based on a breach of a legal duty not to sell a defective product-it is no longer the doctrine of strict products liability. Strict products liability is designed to relieve the plaintiff of any requirement to show negligence in order to recover. The Sanns court turned this principle on its head, concluding that, in cases where the manufacturer is present in the suit, any retailer who did not take part in the "design, manufacture, engineering, testing, or assembly" of the product cannot be said to have "fault." This result is wholly at odds with the principle that "the liability of nonmanufacturing sellers in the distributive chain is strict. It is no defense that they acted reasonably and did not discover a defect in the product, be it from manufacturing, design, or failure to warn."[90] Ultimately, it appears that the Sanns court read the LRA's statement that "[n]o defendant is liable to any person seeking recovery for any amount in excess of the proportion of fault attributed to that defendant" as expressing the legislative intent to fundamentally redefine strict products liability.[91] We disagree.

         2. The passive retailer doctrine relieves non-manufacturer sellers of their liability to plaintiffs

         ¶ 55 In adopting section 402A, we elected to impose on all sellers of a product-retailers, wholesalers, distributors, and manufacturers-an equally shared liability. This aspect of products liability "protect[s] the ultimate consumer"[92] by ensuring that at least one party will be amenable to suit and likely solvent. It acts "as a deterrent and a method of allocating the risk of loss among those best equipped to deal with it."[93] These principles have been completely undermined by the Sanns court's approach.

         ¶ 56 The Sanns court concluded that the "[t]he strict liability 'fault' . . ., if any, lies with the manufacturer, not with . . . the passive retailer."[94] But this distinction between "passive" retailers and "active" manufacturers directly contradicts our adoption of section 402A and the legislature's preservation of products liability in the LRA.[95] The restatement does not distinguish between retailers and manufacturers at all: it applies liability equally to any "seller" of a product, as discussed above.[96] Our legislature has likewise recognized that a products liability claim can be asserted against "a product manufacturer, wholesaler[, ] or retailer."[97] By holding each party equally responsible for its conduct in selling a defective product, the plaintiff is protected because among all of the parties included within a product's chain of distribution, at least one-most often the local retailer-will be amenable to suit and likely solvent.[98]

         ¶ 57 The Sanns court concluded that a passive retailer should be dismissed from a products liability action so long as the manufacturer "is named in the suit."[99] But allowing a retailer to be immediately dismissed is irreconcilable with our adoption of section 402A and with the LRA's express direction that our strict products liability doctrine be preserved. Adopting this immunity would have three results: first, we would effectively overrule our adoption of the Restatement, which imposes equal liability on anyone "who sells any product in a defective condition" so long as "the seller is engaged in the business of selling such a product."[100] Second, it would shift the cost of the injury resulting from defective products from retailers and manufacturers-those that we have long recognized as being best equipped to absorb such costs by creating safer products, contracting with more responsible parties, and spreading the loss to the public at large-onto injured parties in cases where the manufacturer is incapable of satisfying a judgment. If a retailer is dismissed from a suit on the grounds of "immunity, " then the plaintiff cannot recover the "alternative remedy" provided by strict products liability "in the event that the manufacturer is insolvent."[101]Third, we would greatly weaken the incentive scheme created by products liability. With a passive retailer doctrine in place, retailers would have significantly diminished incentive to work with responsible, solvent manufacturers who produce safe products because, so long as they choose a manufacturer who is capable of being "named in the suit, " the retailers would be entitled to be dismissed from any product liability claims. We cannot accept these results where the legislature has specifically retained our strict products liability doctrine in the LRA.

         ¶ 58 Ultimately, not only is there no basis in the substantive law of product liability in tort to categorically exempt passive retailers from responsibility, there is no basis in the substantive law of products liability to limit passive retailers' responsibility at all. Under the substantive law of products liability, retailers and manufactures have an equal, indivisible share of "fault"-the breach of the duty not to sell a defective product.[102] And there is no support for the notion that the legislature, by way of a broadly worded provision requiring the allocation of a broadly defined understanding of "fault" intended to redefine strict products liability in such a drastic way. The legislature defined "fault" in a way that is wholly consistent with our products liability doctrine. We see no basis for relying on such a definition to so substantially modify the key tenets of strict products liability.

         3. The Sanns court conflated contribution with implied indemnity and foreclosed both

         ¶ 59 R.C. Willey's argument, like our court of appeals' decision in Sanns and the concurrence in this case, is largely driven by the mistaken conclusion that the LRA foreclosed actions for implied indemnity. We now explain why it did no such thing.

         ¶ 60 The Sanns court held that implied indemnity actions have been foreclosed by the LRA.[103] It is true that the LRA requires a unitary determination of comparative fault, encompassing not just parties to the suit but any individual who can be identified and for whom there is a "factual and legal basis to allocate fault."[104] This means there is to be a single, unitary proceeding for allocating comparative fault. But implied indemnity actions do not reallocate comparative fault. To conclude that implied indemnity actions reallocate fault is to conflate implied indemnity with contribution. Because of this conflation, the Sanns court held that implied indemnity actions are foreclosed by the LRA.

         ¶ 61 The two relevant statutory provisions dealing with contribution and implied indemnity under the LRA are sections 78B-5-820(2) and 78B-5-823. Section 820(2) states that "[a] defendant is not entitled to contribution from any other person." The second statutory provision, section 78B-5-823, provides that the LRA does not "affect[] or impair[] any right to indemnity or contribution arising from statute, contract, or agreement." Suits for indemnity are different than suits for common law contribution because indemnity actions do not reallocate comparative fault. Thus, the LRA requires a single, unitary proceeding for allocating comparative fault but does not prohibit separate suits for indemnity.

         ¶ 62 Conflating implied indemnity with contribution caused the Sanns court to assume that an action for implied indemnity is a reallocation of fault-dividing damages between defendants. The Sanns court relied on an earlier court of appeals case that had concluded that implied indemnity and contribution are simply "alternative labels" for the same cause of action.[105] But our caselaw shows that we have maintained a clear distinction between these doctrines.

         ¶ 63 "'[I]ndemnity' involve[s] full reimbursement whereas 'contribution' involve[s] splitting the damages among the joint tortfeasors."[106] Contribution was the mechanism by which a defendant who paid an obligation for which he was only partially responsible under the doctrine of joint and several liability recovered the amount paid beyond his personal responsibility. This doctrine did reallocate fault between tortfeasors, each of whom was factually liable for only a portion of damages. Implied indemnity, on the other hand, has never applied to joint and several liability. Instead, it applied only to strict products liability claims[107] and principal/agent situations[108]-situations in which a defendant paid an obligation it was legally obligated to pay in full because of the defendant's relationship to a third party.[109] Contrary to the concurrence's suggestion, [110] an implied indemnity suit does not reallocate fault, for the paying party was legally responsible for the full amount of payment;[111] instead, indemnity is "granted in . . . factual situation[s] in which, as between the parties themselves, it is just and fair that the indemnitor should bear the total responsibility, rather than leave it on the indemnitee or to divide it proportionately between the parties by contribution.[112] In strict products liability actions, this means that "passive suppliers, distributors, and retailers may be entitled to indemnification from the manufacturer of a defective product for any judgment they are required to pay a purchaser."[113]

         ¶ 64 The LRA specifically bars a defendant from recovering contribution, which is consistent with the fact that contribution was an artifact of the old comparative negligence regime where a party could bring a subsequent action seeking to allocate fault to another party. But indemnity is an altogether different matter. A right to implied indemnity exists independent of any assessment of fault, and is instead based on the relationship of the parties.[114] It therefore makes perfect sense that the LRA contains no provision barring an action for implied indemnity. The legislature decided to expressly prohibit contribution, and it could have done the same for indemnity, but it chose to foreclose only contribution. The fact that the legislature could have, but did not, foreclose indemnity is significant. Instead of assuming, as the concurrence does, [115] that the legislature simply misspoke when it barred only contribution, but not indemnity, we presume that the omission of a prohibition against indemnity from the LRA was purposeful.[116] Giving effect to the statutory text, we recognize that the legislature is cognizant of the distinction between indemnity and contribution, and chose to foreclose only the latter. This choice is consistent with the legislative intent we have discussed above: to preserve strict products liability, not eliminate it. And the decision to omit a prohibition against indemnity is completely consistent with other provisions of the LRA because, as discussed above, indemnity does not involve a reallocation of fault.

         ¶ 65 Accordingly, the Sanns court's approach was fundamentally flawed. By conflating negligence with strict liability and contribution with implied indemnity, it in large measure reduced the "downstream" liability of non-manufacturers, effectively shielded retailers from liability, and flatly prohibited any "upstream" indemnity. As discussed above, the legislature intended to preserve our strict products liability doctrine as it was understood. The Sanns court did not. The passive retailer doctrine is inconsistent with the LRA's explicit retention of strict products liability.

         ¶ 66 In sum, the LRA does not immunize passive retailers from suit. Like every entity that breaches its duty not to sell a dangerously defective product, a passive retailer has "fault, " as the LRA uses that term. This does not end our analysis, however, because we note the novel issue that is sure to be presented by this case on remand: whether a fact-finder can apportion fault among strictly liable defendants who are equally strictly liable under the same legal theory. We now turn to providing an answer to that question that honors and retains the essential aspects of our strict products liability doctrine.

         D. The LRA Does Not Require that Fault Be Allocated Among Strictly Liable Defendants; Instead, It Requires They Be Treated as a Single Unit Vis-à-Vis the Plaintiff

         ¶ 67 On remand, the district court will confront a novel question that has not been addressed by appellate courts in Utah: how to handle the apportionment required by the LRA while honoring the legislature's intent to preserve our strict products liability doctrine. We provide guidance to the district court on remand so that it might avoid an improper application of the LRA's text in this context. As discussed above, the history of our strict products liability doctrine and the text and context of the LRA indicate that the legislature intended to preserve strict liability in enacting the LRA. Having demonstrated the legislature's intent to retain strict liability, we now explain how to achieve the legislative mandate that "fault" be apportioned in cases where multiple defendants are liable on the same strict liability theory. We reject an interpretation of the LRA that would require the fact-finder to allocate fault among strictly liable tortfeasors who are strictly liable under the same theory for the same harm. Such an approach would eviscerate our strict products liability doctrine by returning to concepts of negligence in determining which one of multiple strictly liable tortfeasors is at "fault" for the injury. But we must explain how, then, a fact-finder is to apportion "fault" when that term includes strict liability, products liability, and breach of warranty. We reconcile this language by adopting a "relative causation" approach applied by our sister courts in similar circumstances. This allows us to do justice to the LRA's text without eviscerating strict products liability doctrine's core tenets.

         ¶ 68 With these principles in mind, we begin with our conclusion, discussed above, that the legislature did not intend to abrogate the fundamental, substantive aspects of products liability. This conclusion requires that we address what the legislature did intend by including strict products liability within the scope of the LRA. Thus, although it is clear the LRA's allocation of "fault" cannot be based on culpability, there must still be some allocation of "fault" that includes strict products liability.

         ¶ 69 Accordingly, we have an ambiguity in the statute: it calls for apportionment of "fault" to each defendant, yet it does not alter the basic premise that the liability involved is strict liability-liability without fault. And there is no conceptual way of dividing strict liability-something that by definition cannot be divided-that does not involve transforming it into a form of negligence. In resolving this ambiguity, the text of the LRA guides our approach.

         ¶ 70 The LRA requires the fact-finder to "allocate the percentage or proportion of fault attributable to each person seeking recovery, to each defendant, to any person immune from suit, and to any other person identified . . . for whom there is a factual and legal basis to allocate fault."[117] Because any division of fault between strictly liable parties is either completely arbitrary or incorporates notions of negligence-neither of which is acceptable as a matter of legislative intent or under basic principles of law-there is simply no "factual or legal basis to allocate fault" between strictly liable parties who are liable under the same theory and for the same conduct.[118]

         ¶ 71 There is no factual basis to apportion strict products liability among strictly liable defendants because doing so requires the fact-finder to look for evidence of culpability, which is impermissible under a strict liability claim. The only "fault" at issue in strict products liability cases is the breach of the duty not to sell a defective product. Such "fault" is not based in notions of culpability or wrongdoing and is equally attributable to each seller of a product- from a manufacturer to a local retailer. There is also no legal basis to apportion strict products liability, for strict products liability is a binary question-did a party sell a defective product? If yes, then it is strictly liable. There is no legal principle found in our strict products liability doctrine that permits strict liability "fault" to be divided among multiple parties who are each liable for the same act.[119] Instead, the LRA requires us to apply comparative fault principles based on the "relative responsibility" of each party by comparing "relative fault and relative causation."[120]

         ¶ 72 "Fault" under the LRA incorporates almost every claim that can "proximately caus[e] or contribut[e] to injury or damages."[121]Thus, the LRA's definition of fault expressly asks a fact-finder to look to "relative causation" in making its allocation of "fault." We recently reaffirmed this interpretation of the LRA in Graves v. North Eastern Services, Inc.[122] In that case, we reemphasized that LRA "shifted the focus from apportionment of comparative negligence to the task of 'assigning the relative responsibility' based on 'relative fault and relative causation.'"[123] The LRA did not redefine strict products liability into a negligence-based tort. Instead, the text makes clear that the LRA was intended to ensure that comparative fault principles would apply when comparing the strict liability of defendants against the negligence of plaintiffs.[124] This is why the LRA includes within its definition of "fault" both the claims a plaintiff can assert-strict liability, products liability, and breach of warranty-as well as the defenses a strictly liable defendant can raise-misuse, modification, or abuse of a product.[125] These can and should be compared when determining a plaintiff's recovery. But the LRA was never intended to accomplish a legal impossibility-the allocation and division of strict products liability between multiple parties who are each strictly liable under the same theory for engaging in the same conduct. Instead, we must apply principles of relative causation in allocating "fault" among such parties. This approach is confirmed by the relevant legislative history and our own caselaw on this point.[126]

         ¶ 73 When we adopted the products liability doctrine in 1979 in Ernest W. Hahn, Inc. v. Armco Steel Co., [127] we held that there were two defenses to a strict products liability claim: misuse of the product and knowledge of the defect.[128] We specifically declined to address, however, "whether comparative principles should apply in strict products liability cases."[129] That issue was taken up in Mulherin v. Ingersoll-Rand Co.[130]

         ¶ 74 The jury in Mulherin had found that there were "concurrent proximate causes of the injury: the defective condition of the [product] manufactured by defendant and plaintiff's misuse of the [product]."[131] We stated that "[b]oth parties can therefore be said to be at fault in contributing to plaintiff's injuries, " and held that "fault" in this context "connotes responsibility, " not negligence.[132]We ultimately held that "both faults should be considered by the trier of fact in determining the relative burden each should bear for the injury they have caused."[133] In so doing, we noted that "[t]here may be semantic difficulties in comparing strict liability and negligence, " but stated "that judges and juries will have no difficulty assigning the relative responsibility each is to bear for a particular injury" for "the ultimate issues in such comparisons are relative fault and relative causation."[134]

         ¶ 75 Soon after Mulherin was decided, the legislature adopted the LRA. The legislative history surrounding the LRA's adoption is clear that it was never intended to subvert or alter the substantive law of strict products liability. Senator Lyle Hillyard specifically asked about the inclusion of strict products liability within the LRA's definition of fault. He was concerned because, consonant with the longstanding understanding of strict liability described above, "if there's strict liability found, it's generally found, period, and you're not 10 percent or 20 percent or 50 percent at fault. . . . You're not even talking about percent, of 10 percent, 20 percent, or 50 percent. You're talking about totally different concepts."[135] Senator Hillyard was concerned that we had already begun to undercut our strict products liability doctrine in Mulherin by allowing the negligence of a party to be compared against the strict liability of another party.[136]He was further concerned that the legislature was conflating negligence with strict liability by way of the LRA's broad definition of "fault."

         ¶ 76 Assistant Attorney General Steve Sorenson's response to this concern was that the bill was not going to "change the substantive law of strict liability or breach of warranty at all."[137]Instead, "[w]hat it says is, if you have multiple defendants, one of whom is guilty of negligence, one of whom is guilty of strict liability, the jury, in apportioning fault, apportions fault between those parties regardless of the theory on which the party is liable."[138] In explaining the bill's effect, Mr. Sorenson stated that this issue-the comparing of "fault" between a party liable under negligence and a party liable under strict liability-was an issue that we as a court had struggled with in our decision in Mulherin.[139] The LRA was intended as a "clarification" that our decision in Mulherin was correct-that we can and should compare the "fault" of "different defendants, guilty on different theories of liability."[140]

         ¶ 77 Thus, the legislative history of the LRA confirms two conclusions that are clear from the text of the Act: first, the LRA did not "change the substantive law of strict liability or breach of warranty at all."[141] This intent was made evident through the legislature's specific preservation of products liability, as discussed above. At that time, the substantive law of strict products liability was (and still remains) that the doctrine "imposes liability in tort without proof of negligence upon 'one who sells any product in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer.'"[142] Thus, whatever allocation is required under the LRA, it must leave intact the substantive law of strict products liability.

         ¶ 78 Second, the LRA codified the principles found in Mulherin- that we can compare the "fault" of a strictly liable party against the "fault" of a negligent one.[143] In fact, we expressly held that such was the case in Graves v. North Eastern Services, Inc., where we recognized that "[t]he 1986 Act [the LRA] adopted the essential principles of the Mulherin court's analysis. . . . [I]t shifted the focus from apportionment of comparative negligence to the task of 'assigning the relative responsibility' based on 'relative fault and relative causation.'"[144] Thus, we can and must compare the relative causation of strictly liable parties against the relative fault of the plaintiff or other defendants.

         ¶ 79 Indeed, the only way to preserve both the substantive law of strict products liability-a doctrine distinct from negligence-as well as its policies and purposes-to protect and fully compensate injured plaintiffs-is to limit the LRA's apportionment of fault in strict products liability cases to the scenarios contemplated by the legislature when the LRA was enacted. As discussed above, the legislature was concerned with comparing the "fault" of strictly liable parties (the breach of the duty not to sell a defective product) against the negligence of others, usually the plaintiff.[145] We cannot, consonant with the text and history of the LRA as well as the doctrine and purposes of strict products liability, interpret the LRA to require the fact-finder to apportion fault among strictly liable parties. Indeed, we cannot divide strict products liability between strictly liable sellers of a defective product at all.

         ¶ 80 To reconcile the text of the LRA requiring apportionment with its explicit retention of strict products liability, we adopt the same approach that the Texas Supreme Court adopted in Duncan v. Cessna Aircraft Co.:

Many courts and commentators have labeled this type of loss allocation system comparative fault. We choose comparative causation instead because it is conceptually accurate in cases based on strict liability and breach of warranty theories in which the defendant's "fault, " in the traditional sense of culpability, is not at issue. The trier of fact is to compare the harm caused by the defective product with the harm caused by the negligence of the other defendants, any ...

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