Foster v. Bergson Tire Co. Inc.
Allegations that a defendant recapped a tire incorrectly are insufficient to state a cause of action under the Connecticut Product Liability Act, because recapping a tire qualifies as a service. The plaintiff, Jay Foster, allegedly was injured when he attempted to install a truck tire, and the tire exploded. The plaintiff sued the defendant, Bergson Tire Co., alleging it used an old tire casing and recapped the tire incorrectly, in violation of the Connecticut Product Liability Act, Connecticut General Statutes §52-572m. The plaintiff maintained that Bergson Tire Co. is a "product seller," because it allegedly manufactures, markets, sells and distributes recapped tires. Recapping is a process in which the tread is removed and a new rubber tread is placed on a tire casing. Bergson Tire Co. moved for summary judgment and argued that the tire tread, which Bergson provided, did not fail, only the tire casing, which another company provided. Bergson also claimed it provides a "service," as opposed to a "product," and that the Product Liability Act only applies to products and to product sellers. "Once a particular transaction is labeled a `service,' as opposed to a `sale' of a `product,' it is outside the purview of our product liability statute," pursuant to Zichichi v. Middlesex Memorial Hospital, a 1987 decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court. In Watts v. Rubber Tree Inc., a 1993 decision, the Oregon Court of Appeals found that the defendant, a tire recapper, did not qualify as a "seller" under Oregon's product liability act. Here, the Superior Court found that the defendant, Bergson Tire Co., provided a service, and it did not qualify as a "product seller." Even if it did, the plaintiff did not prove that Bergson Tire Co.'s service was defective, because the evidence established that the tire casing, which another company provided, allegedly was defective, as opposed to the tread that Bergson provided. The court granted Bergson Tire Co.'s motion for summary judgment.