Can Manufacturer's Representative Be Sued Without Placing the Product Into Chain of Distribution ?

In Alvarez v. Koby Machinery Co., 163 Ill. App. 3d 711, 516 N.E.2d 930, 114 Ill. Dec. 775 (1987), the plaintiff sued F.A. Ziegler Company (Ziegler), a manufacturer's representative, who attempted to sell the plaintiff's employer a new mill manufactured by McNeil Akron Corp. The plaintiff's employer declined but indicated that it wanted to buy a used Koby mill. Ziegler did not carry or sell Koby mills but learned of one for sale in Florida. Ziegler sent for the machine's specifications and price and forwarded this to the plaintiff's employer. Ziegler then agreed to inspect the gearbox for the plaintiff's employer and went to Florida to do so. Ziegler was not compensated for its inspection, but the plaintiff's employer did pay for its expenses. Ziegler made no recommendations to the plaintiff's employer regarding any modifications to make, did not participate in the negotiations for the sale of the Koby mill, did not participate in the installation of the mill, and received no compensation in connection with the sale of the mill. The trial court found that Ziegler's conduct could not be characterized as placing the mill into the chain of distribution and that, thus, Ziegler could not be held strictly liable. Alvarez, 163 Ill. App. 3d at 713-14.