Will Amazon Ultimately Be Held Responsible for Defective Products Sold On Its Website?
Courts all over the country – as well as attorneys who represent victims of defective products – are watching to see whether Amazon is ultimately held liable for a seller’s defective product; a decision that could completely change products liability, especially given the dominance that Amazon has over the market right now and how long the company has been able to dodge responsibility for defective products that are sold by third-party merchants on its website.
The Oberdorf case that will ultimately give us this answer involves a Plaintiff who was injured when a dog leash purchased from a third-party merchant off of Amazon broke, flew back, and hit her in the face, leaving her permanently blind in the left eye. While Amazon has maintained that it cannot be held liable as a seller, instead arguing that it plays the role of simply connecting merchants with customers as an “online marketplace for products,” the Third Circuit disagreed, in part relying on a public policy argument in finding that the company was in the unique position of being able to prevent the circulation of defective products due to being the one to receive reports back on these products, and therefore finding that imposing liability would incentivize safety, especially since Amazon customers are often unable to locate the actual third-party merchants. The ruling was contrary to recent rulings out of both the Fourth and Sixth circuits, which held that the company could not be held liable as a seller under state products liability laws.
Amazon Fights to Have Third Circuit’s Decision Holding Company Accountable Reversed
However, Amazon filed a request to have the Third Circuit’s decision reconsidered, arguing that it not only conflicts with other rulings, but that the court is essentially establishing precedent with no practical limit.
As a result, the Third Circuit has now agreed to hear the case en banc, meaning that the full court can modify, reinstate, or reverse the original panel’s finding. In June, it sent the case to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, asking that it weigh in; specifically pointing out that this is a case of first impression and an issue of substantial public importance and, as a result, knowing how the Court would rule regarding whether the Second Restatement of Torts (§ 402A) applies to Amazon would be instrumental.
Still, The Decision Is Already Having an Impact in Plaintiffs’ Favor
The court’s decision could open Amazon up to a flood of lawsuits stemming from items sold on its website. These items represented an estimated $160 billion in sales in 2018 alone. Already, a number of courts around the country have cited Oberdorf in finding that Amazon can be held liable as a seller in a number of cases; for bathtub faucet adapters that caused a house to flood, scooters that led to injuries, etc. Other controversial cases linked to the website have included a number of hoverboards that have caught on fire as well.
If You Have Been Harmed by A Defective Product, Contact Our Florida Personal Injury Attorneys Today
If a company sold you a faulty good and you have been harmed by it, they have placed you and others at risk as consumers, and you have a cause of action to take them to court for it. Contact Tampa defective product lawyer Mark H. Wright today for help in investigating and pursuing a claim to move ahead and obtain justice.