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Amazon Could Be Liable for Third-Party Defective Products

Goldstein Heslop Steele Clapper Oswalt & Smith Dec. 12, 2021

Shopping today has never been easier. Not only is a consumer product a mouse click away from purchasing, it is now possible to have these goods shipped to you the next day or even the same day. The ever-expanding Amazon allows for the needs of consumers to be fulfilled; however, this does not mean that consumer safety is always met. In fact, with such a fast paced operation, defective products getting in the hands of a consumer remains a major concern.

Due to a federal appeals court ruling, Amazon.com Inc. may be exposed to lawsuits for defective products purchased from third-party vendors on its website. While other courts, which includes two federal appeal courts, have held that Amazon cannot be held liable for defective products as a seller of products from third-party vendors. However, a recent ruling in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals located in Philadelphia is the first court to change this trend.

In this matter, a product purchased on Amazon that was sold by a third-party vendor injured a customer in Pennsylvania. Because state law typically governs liability for a defective product, the court considered the fact that Amazon has dominance in the marketplace as well as the ability for third-party vendors to conceal themselves from customers, making it difficult for injured consumers to seek recourses. Thus, the court ruled that Amazon could be held liable for these actions.

When a defective product harms a consumer, it is possible to seek compensation for the losses suffered. In many cases, this looks like recovering a monetary award for financial losses, such as medical bills and lost wages; however, it could also help the injured consumer address mental and emotional damages as well.

Filing a products liability action can be a very beneficial step to take. Understanding this process and what rights a consumer has is valuable as well.