2020 Georgia Code
Title 51 - Torts
Chapter 1 - General Provisions
§ 51-1-11.1. Liability of Product Seller as a Manufacturer

Universal Citation: GA Code § 51-1-11.1 (2020)
  1. As used in this Code section, the term "product seller" means a person who, in the course of a business conducted for the purpose leases or sells and distributes; installs; prepares; blends; packages; labels; markets; or assembles pursuant to a manufacturer's plan, intention, design, specifications, or formulation; or repairs; maintains; or otherwise is involved in placing a product in the stream of commerce. This definition does not include a manufacturer which, because of certain activities, may additionally be included within all or a portion of the definition of a product seller.
  2. For purposes of a product liability action based in whole or in part on the doctrine of strict liability in tort, a product seller is not a manufacturer as provided in Code Section 51-1-11 and is not liable as such.
  3. Nothing contained in this Code section shall be construed to grant a cause of action in strict liability in tort or any other legal theory or to affect the right of any person to seek and obtain indemnity or contribution.
  4. This Code section shall apply to all causes of action accruing on or after July 1, 1987.

(Code 1981, §51-1-11.1, enacted by Ga. L. 1987, p. 1152, § 1.)

Law reviews.

- For article, "Products Liability Law in Georgia Including Recent Developments," see 43 Mercer L. Rev. 27 (1991). For annual survey of trial practice and procedure, see 57 Mercer L. Rev. 381 (2005). For annual survey of product liability law, see 58 Mercer L. Rev. 313 (2006). For survey article on product liability law, see 60 Mercer L. Rev. 303 (2008). For annual survey on product liability, see 69 Mercer L. Rev. 231 (2017).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Strict liability confined to actual manufacturers.

- O.C.G.A. § 51-1-11.1 confines strict liability to actual manufacturers - those entities that have an active role in the production, design, or assembly of products and place the products in the stream of commerce, such that the category of "ostensible manufacturer" no longer exists in Georgia. Accordingly, a propane gas retailer and propane gas distributor were not manufacturers for purposes of O.C.G.A. § 51-1-11.1. Freeman v. United Cities Propane Gas of Ga., Inc., 807 F. Supp. 1533 (M.D. Ga. 1992).

Product "seller" rather than "manufacturer."

- Cause of action for strict liability can be maintained only against the manufacturer of a product. A mere "product seller" is not a manufacturer, and is not liable as a manufacturer on grounds of strict liability. Ream Tool Co. v. Newton, 209 Ga. App. 226, 433 S.E.2d 67 (1993).

An entity which merely affixes its label to a product and sells it under its name is a product seller rather than a manufacturer under O.C.G.A. § 51-1-11.1 and is not liable in a product liability action based on the doctrine of strict liability in tort. Alltrade, Inc. v. McDonald, 213 Ga. App. 758, 445 S.E.2d 856 (1994); Buford v. Toys R' Us, Inc., 217 Ga. App. 565, 458 S.E.2d 373 (1995), overruled on other grounds, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Wheeler, 262 Ga. App. 607, 586 S.E.2d 83 (2003).

Company which imported and marketed pliers and ordered them by describing the tools it wanted to trading companies which secured them from foreign manufacturers was a product seller, not a manufacturer. Schneider v. Tri Star Int'l, Inc., 223 Ga. App. 85, 476 S.E.2d 846 (1996).

Restaurant selling coffee made in a coffee maker in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications was a "product seller" and could not be held liable to a plaintiff who sustained burns from spilled coffee. Barnett v. Leiserv, Inc., 968 F. Supp. 690 (N.D. Ga. 1997), aff'd, 137 F.3d 1356 (11th Cir. 1998).

Corporation which purchased the assets of a manufacturer and sold, but did not manufacture, a product of the design manufactured by its predecessor, was a "product seller" under O.C.G.A. § 51-1-11.1, not a "manufacturer" subject to strict liability under paragraph (b)(1) of O.C.G.A. § 51-1-11 for any defect in the product. Farmex Inc. v. Wainwright, 269 Ga. 548, 501 S.E.2d 802 (1998).

Distributor of bagels baked by another was not an ostensible manufacturer since there was no evidence that the recipe or formula for the bagels was based on the distributor's own specifications. Thomasson v. Rich Prods. Corp., 232 Ga. App. 424, 502 S.E.2d 289 (1998).

Pharmacist and pharmacy that package and label drugs manufactured by another are product sellers, not manufacturers, within the meaning of strict products liability. Robinson v. Williamson, 245 Ga. App. 17, 537 S.E.2d 159 (2000).

In a personal injury and products liability action when the seller of an engine had no active participation in the design of an alleged defective wood chipper, and the seller's only input into the design was limited to saying in essence that the particular engine would perform adequately in such a chipper, the trial court properly granted summary judgment to the seller since the seller did not qualify in any manner as a manufacturer of the alleged defective chipper. Davenport v. Cummins Alabama, Inc., 284 Ga. App. 666, 644 S.E.2d 503 (2007).

Bicycle helmet importer was not liable under a strict products liability theory because the importer was a product seller under O.C.G.A. § 51-1-11.1, rather than a manufacturer. The importer's actions in providing an instructional booklet and header card was akin to labelling the product; and shipping and distributing a product did not make the company a manufacturer. Williams v. Pac. Cycle, Inc., 661 Fed. Appx. 716 (11th Cir. 2016)(Unpublished).

Cited in Dean v. Toyota Indus. Equip. Mfg., Inc., 246 Ga. App. 255, 540 S.E.2d 233 (2000); Carolina Tobacco Co. v. Baker, 295 Ga. App. 115, 670 S.E.2d 811 (2008); Coosa Valley Tech. College v. West, 299 Ga. App. 171, 682 S.E.2d 187 (2009).

RESEARCH REFERENCES

ALR.

- Products liability: seller's right to indemnity from manufacturer, 79 A.L.R.4th 278.

Common-law strict liability in tort of prior landowner or lessee to subsequent owner for contamination of land with hazardous waste resulting from prior owner's or lessee's abnormally dangerous or ultrahazardous activity, 13 A.L.R.5th 600.

Products liability: ladders, 81 A.L.R.5th 245.

Products liability: personal injury or death allegedly caused by defect in motorcycle or its parts or equipment, 14 A.L.R.7th 7.

Regulation of Sugar- Sweetened Beverages, 38 A.L.R.7th Art. 3.

Products Liability: necessity and admissibility of expert or opinion evidence as to causation of injury to user of prescription drugs generally, 38 A.L.R.7th Art. 7.

Products Liability: Necessity and Admissibility of Expert or Opinion Evidence as to Causation of Injury to Prescription Drug User Concerning Particular Witnesses, 39 A.L.R.7th Art. 1.

Products Liability: Necessity and Admissibility of Expert or Opinion Evidence as to Causation of Injury to Prescription Drug User Concerning Particular Drugs, 39 A.L.R.7th Art. 2.

Opioid Marketing, Promoting, and Distributing Claims Against Manufacturers and Distributors, 39 A.L.R.7th Art. 4.

Products Liability: Necessity and Admissibility of Expert or Opinion Evidence as to Causation of Injury to User of Medical Devices Generally, 39 A.L.R.7th Art. 5.

Products Liability: Necessity and Admissibility of Expert or Opinion Evidence as to Causation of Injury to Medical Device User Concerning Particular Witnesses, 39 A.L.R.7th Art. 8.

Products Liability: Necessity and Admissibility of Expert or Opinion Evidence as to Causation of Injury to Medical Device User Concerning Particular Devices, 40 A.L.R.7th Art. 4.

Products Liability: Necessity and Admissibility of Expert or Opinion Evidence as to Causation of Injury to User of Automobiles and Other Motor Vehicles Generally, 42 A.L.R.7th Art. 4.

Products Liability: Necessity and Admissibility of Expert or Opinion Evidence as to Causation of Injury to Automobile and Other Motor Vehicle User Concerning Particular Witnesses, 43 A.L.R.7th Art. 2.

Products Liability: Necessity and Admissibility of Expert or Opinion Evidence as to Causation of Injury to Automobile and Other Motor Vehicle User Concerning Particular Vehicles, 43 A.L.R.7th Art. 7.

Products Liability: Necessity and Admissibility of Expert or Opinion Evidence as to Causation of Injury to User of Household Items, 44 A.L.R.7th Art. 5.

Products Liability: Necessity and Admissibility of Expert or Opinion Evidence as to Causation of Injury to User of Electronic Devices, 45 A.L.R.7th Art. 4.

Products Liability: Necessity and Admissibility of Expert or Opinion Evidence as to Causation of Injury to User of Industrial Equipment and Chemicals, 46 A.L.R.7th Art. 8.

Sufficiency of Evidence of Crime of Disarming Police Officer or Attempt Thereof, 47 A.L.R.7th Art. 2.

Products Liability: Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) filters, 47 A.L.R.7th Art. 5.

Products Liability: Necessity and Admissibility of Expert or Opinion Evidence as to Causation of Injury to User of Agricultural Equipment, Chemicals, and Feed, 48 A.L.R.7th Art. 4.

Products Liability: Necessity and Admissibility of Expert or Opinion Evidence as to Causation of Injury to User of Sporting Equipment, 49 A.L.R.7th Art. 1.

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