Should Amazon Be Liable for Defective Products?

Amazon remains the world’s favorite “get anything from us” service. Amazon is a place where you can get anything from the glamorous and luxurious to the useless and mundane. Since you can truly get anything from Amazon, this also means that thrown into their enormous inventory are fake products. These are subpar reproductions of the item the buyer actually wants, like luxury shoes or purses.

Some are merely phony, while others are more dangerous because they are made with materials and substances that are harmful to people. More serious cases come from electronics where items are made in this way and when used, can combust into flames, often leaving the injured scarred for life. The injured’s first reaction is to sue Amazon; after all that’s where they bought the item. Most courts have maintained that Amazon is not a “seller,” though. 

The Manufacturer Is Liable
Since Amazon didn’t manufacture the product and are only “hosting” the sale of a third party’s product on their platform, they are not liable for any defects of said product. Many defective products have come from China, where it’s pretty much impossible to successfully sue a manufacturer for a defective product. This means both the manufacturer and Amazon have been able to get off scot-free, and it’s always been that way — until now.

New Rulings on Liability
The California Court of Appeal has made a decision regarding third-party products sold through Amazon. It was ruled that “Amazon plays a pivotal role in delivering the products to the consumer, whether it acts as a retailer, distributor, or facilitator.” As stated in the ruling:

[“As a factual and legal matter, Amazon placed itself between Lenoge and Bolger in the chain of distribution of the product at issue here. Amazon accepted possession of the product from Lenoge, stored it in an Amazon warehouse, attracted Bolger to the Amazon website, provided her with a product listing for Lenoge’s product, received her payment for the product, and shipped the product in Amazon packaging to her. Amazon set the terms of its relationship with Lenoge, controlled the conditions of Lenoge’s offer for sale on Amazon, limited Lenoge’s access to Amazon’s customer information, forced Lenoge to communicate with customers through Amazon, and demanded indemnification as well as substantial fees on each purchase.”]

Ultimately, under the established principles of strict liability, Amazon is still liable for product defects even if there is no malicious intent involved in the accidents.

The plaintiff in the ruling of this case was a woman who bought a replacement battery for her laptop from Lenoge Technology HK Ltd, a Hong Kong manufacturer operating under the name “E-Life.” The battery exploded into flames on her lap resulting in severe burns. 

Contact an Attorney
If you or someone you know has been injured by a defective product, contact an attorney, like a personal injury attorney in Las Vegas, NV from Eric Roy Law Firm, to schedule a consultation to see if you have a case today.

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