Davidson Lumber Sales, Inc. v. Bonneville Investment, Inc

In Davidson Lumber Sales, Inc. v. Bonneville Investment, Inc., 794 P.2d 11, 14 (Utah 1990) the Court noted that in some cases, breach of warranty has been used to describe both the strict liability tort action and the contract action. The ability to use breach of warranty to describe both a tort action and a contract action has tempted some jurists into applying the UCC statute of limitations to the tort portions of a plaintiff's complaint whenever the plaintiff alleges breach of warranty. Id. at 15-16. Conversely, some courts have argued for merging the contract cause of action into the strict liability cause of action. See, e.g., Denny, 662 N.E.2d at 740 (Simons, J., dissenting). Both of these approaches, however, ignore the important conceptual differences between contract and tort that justify resisting their merger. See id. at 736 (explaining that contract law "directs its attention to the purchaser's disappointed expectations" and tort law "traditionally has concerned itself with social policy and risk allocation"). Additionally, application of the UCC statute of limitations to the tort portion of a plaintiff's complaint has been specifically rejected by this court. See Davidson, 794 P.2d at 15-16. In Davidson, Davidson Lumber brought an action for negligence, breach of implied warranty of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, indemnity, and contribution. 794 P.2d at 12. The action for which Davidson Lumber sought indemnity was a suit alleging strict product liability, breach of implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, and negligence. Id. The trial court held that the UCC statute of limitations, Utah Code Ann. 70A-2-725, barred Davidson Lumber's claims. Davidson, 794 P.2d at 12. The Court reversed, holding that the UCC statute of limitations only covers claims for damages recoverable under contract law and does not cover actions for personal injury or personal property damage. Id. at 16. Since only some of the claims for which Davidson Lumber sought indemnity were contract claims, we held that Davidson Lumber's claims for injury to persons or property were governed by the relevant tort statute of limitations. Id. at 18.