Veronica Antone v. Greater Arizona Auto Auction, Inc – 4/20/2007

April 30, 2007

Arizona Court of Appeals Division Two Holds that Auction Facility Is Not A Seller Subject to Arizona’s Strict Liability Under Arizona’s Product Liability Statutes.

GAAA, an automobile auction facility, auctioned a truck belonging to Jim Click Ford to Truck Stop, Inc., which then sold the vehicle to the Antones. The Antones were in a motor vehicle accident and filed a personal injury accident against Jim Click Ford, GAAA, and Truck Stop. GAAA filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the Antones’ strict liability claim. After a hearing, the trial court granted GAAA’s motion. The Antone’s appealed, raising the issue of whether GAAA is a seller under Arizona’s product liability statutes and is therefore subject to strict liability if it sells a defective and unreasonably dangerous product.

Judge Vasquez, writing for a unanimous panel, affirmed the trial court’s decision that GAAA is not a seller under A.R.S. § 12-681(9). The court rejected the Antone’s position that strict liability applies to GAAA because it “participates in the chain of distribution,” noting that GAAA never interacted with an ultimate consumer, at no time took title to or sold the vehicle, and sold the vehicles “as is,” without performing any repairs to the vehicle. Instead, the court found that GAAA provides a service of facilitating sales transactions of used vehicles between commercial buyers and sellers. The court declined GAAA’s request that the court adopt Restatement (Third) of Torts: Products Liability § 20, noting that the resolution of the case rested on settled principles of Arizona law