In addition to the products that Amazon sells itself, the online retail giant also allows third-party vendors to sell products through its website. There are times, however, when the products are damaged or defective. Depending on the product and the nature of the defect, this can cause injuries to the consumer. Until recently, Amazon could not be sued by consumers if a third-party product was defective because the law stated that Amazon was not considered a seller. However, a federal district judge recently ruled that Amazon can now be held liable for selling defective third-party products.
One example of a defective third-party product involved a consumer from Pennsylvania who ordered a dog collar from an Amazon Marketplace seller. The collar broke while she was walking her dog, causing the leash to snap and recoil. It hit her in the eye, causing permanent blindness. A district court in Pennsylvania ruled in favor or Amazon, saying that the retailer was protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects platforms from the actions of people using those platforms. After she appealed the ruling, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled in her favor.
In the Court’s ruling, the judge stated that Amazon could be held liable for being part of the sales chain. In addition, the Court stated that Amazon is protected for speech, but not for the sale of goods in the real world. According to the Circuit Judge, Amazon may be liable because its business model allows third-party vendors to essentially be hidden from the consumer. If a consumer is injured by a defective third-party product, this makes it difficult for the consumer to hold the vendor liable for the injuries.
Third-Party Products Make Up Significant Percentage of Amazon Business
Roughly half of the products sold on Amazon are third-party products. In the third quarter of 2019, Amazon’s profits from third-party products totaled approximately $11 billion. The defective collar sold on Amazon by the vendor, Furry Gang, is just one example of a damaged third-party product that caused injuries to the consumer. Another defective third-party product that got a lot of attention in 2015 involved the Chinese hoverboards. Problems with the battery caused them to catch on fire, resulting in hundreds of fires and burn-related injuries. State Farm is seeking to hold Amazon liable for the $600,000 in damages associated with a house fire that occurred when the hoverboard caught on fire.
Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Handle Third-Party Liability Issues
The Philadelphia business lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. handle a wide range of legal matters, including cases involving third-party liability issues. Our skilled legal team has a proven track record of reaching successful outcomes for our clients. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.