Can Role of a ''Broker'' In Marketing a Defective Product Supports Strict Liability ?

In Hammond v. North American Asbestos Corp., 97 Ill. 2d 195, 206, 454 N.E.2d 210, 73 Ill. Dec. 350 (1983), the defendant from whom the plaintiff sought to recover in strict liability was a wholly owned subsidiary of the manufacturer of the defective product, asbestos. Its annual reports to the Secretary of State listed its business as the manufacture and sale of asbestos. The defendant had been incorporated to be a contact point in North America for the manufacturer's customers, and while making only a few direct sales of asbestos, it primarily functioned as a message relay center between the manufacturer and its customers. The defendant received a 2 1/2% commission on all sales in North America. The defendant never had physical possession of any asbestos sold by the manufacturer. On appeal from a jury verdict for the plaintiff, the defendant argued that it was not a seller but that it acted merely as a broker by merely facilitating and servicing its parent corporation's contracts for the sale of asbestos. The supreme court concluded that the jury could have concluded that the defendant's role in marketing the asbestos was sufficient to support strict liability. Hammond, 97 Ill. 2d at 206.