South United Methodist Church v. Joseph Gnazzo Co. Inc.
Connecticut General Statutes §52-572m(a) defines "product seller" as "any person or entity, including a manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor or retailer who is engaged in the business of selling such products whether the sale is for resale or for use or consumption." The plaintiff church sued the defendant contractor, Joseph Gnazzo Co., alleging it violated the Connecticut Product Liability Act when it remodeled a church edifice using artificial stone, purchased from a third party. The defendant moved for summary judgment and argued it did not qualify as a "product seller." There was no evidence that the defendant received any commission for use of the stone or that the defendant served as an agent for the manufacturer of the stone. The Connecticut Appellate Court found in Paul v. McPhee, a 1997 decision, that a party that is in the business of installing a product, as opposed to manufacturing, purveying, leasing or holding the product in bailment, does not qualify as a product seller, pursuant to C.G.S. §52-572m(a). Because the defendant used the stone in a remodeling project and was not in the business of manufacturing, selling, leasing or holding the stone in bailment, it did not qualify as a "product seller," and the court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment.