What responsibility does Amazon have for defective products sold through its platform? It’s a good question that, right now, doesn’t have a definitive answer — although a case that goes to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals early in 2020 may help provide an answer.
The case involves a Pennsylvania woman who purchased a retractable dog leash through Amazon. The collar promptly broke upon use, flinging the end of the leash backward into the woman’s left eye, partially blinding her.
The victim tried to sue the Nevada company that sold the product through Amazon, but the company vanished. In desperation, she turned to Amazon, asking the mega-giant to pay her compensation for her losses.
Amazon refused. The online platform maintains that it merely provides a service through which private sales are made and isn’t responsible for any injuries caused by defective products. So far, the lower Third Circuit court has disagreed, saying that Amazon is part of the supply chain bringing products to the consumer market and is liable under Pennsylvania’s strict product liability laws.
Amazon, quite naturally, disagrees. The company argues that holding it liable for the defective products others sell through the platform would expand product liability law unfairly. Attorneys for the plaintiff, on the other hand, argue that it’s a natural progression of the law — which was created long before internet commerce was established — when consumers perceive Amazon to be the seller of an item.
The case is likely to be watched closely by both personal injury attorneys and companies alike because the outcome could trigger a host of new product liability claims in the future. Product liability claims can often be difficult to resolve. If you or your loved one suffered an injury due to a defective, dangerous product, seek legal advice about your rights as soon as possible.