Statutes of repose are most commonly enacted to protect manufacturers of products, engineers, and architects. They set fixed limits for how long certain parties may be held liable for defects in something they designed, built, manufactured, or sold.
If a state enacted a 10 year statute of repose for architects, that would mean that the architect couldn't be sued for designing a dangerous building more than 10 years after it was built - even if it collapsed and killed people due to the architect's error.
Statutes of repose prevent manufactuers and others from being sued for something that was built, designed, or manufactured many years ago.
Statutes of repose are often used to protect manufacturers of products that can fail catastrophically, such as aircraft components, nuclear reactor components, and dangerous industrial machinery.
Most manufacturers support shortening existing statutes of repose, and creating new ones for new products. Some asbestos-related lawsuits have been barred by statutes of repose, even though the victim didn't develop cancer until years after the statute of repose expired.
For More Information:
In a Word: Define With Care (PDF File)