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Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf is a New York Plaintiff's personal injury law firm specializing in automobile accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice, products liability, police misconduct and all types of New York personal injury litigation.
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Should Amazon be held liable for defective products sold by third-party vendors?

package-delivery-1243499_640Defectives products are being sold on Amazon by third party vendors and the current Amazon policy is to decline any responsibility for defective merchandise sold by these vendors. Defective products sold on Amazon have lead to serious injuries and deaths.  A man who bought a motorcycle helmet that was out of compliance with federal safety standards died after the helmet came off in an accident.  Amazon settled the case for $5,000 and refused to accept any responsibility.

In another case, a third party seller sold a defective hover board to a family in Nashville. The defective hover board caught fire and the house burned down while two children jumped out of the window to escape death. In court papers it was proven that Amazon knew that the product was defective but didn’t prevent the third party  vendor from selling it. An appeals court ruled that under state product liability law Amazon was not the seller but allowed the plaintiff’s claim of negligence against Amazon to go to trial.

Recent decision indicates Amazon could be held liable for defective products sold by third party vendors

A Pennsylvania woman walking her dog with a defective collar became blind in the left eye after the collar broke and the retractable leach hit the woman in the face.  The woman decided to pursue a product liability lawsuit and neither she or Amazon were able to locate the third party seller, she sued Amazon.  In a statement filed with the U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Pennsylvania in 2017 Amazon declined all responsibility because the collar was sold by a third party seller. The case was appealed and went up to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. In a unprecedented decision, a three-judge panel held Amazon liable for the products sold by third party vendors. “We do not believe that Pennsylvania law shields a company from strict liability simply because it adheres to a business model that fails to prioritize consumer safety,” wrote Judge Jane Richards Roth in the panel’s majority opinion.  The final decision is now in the hands of the full court that has the ability to reverse, modify or reinstate the panel findings.  The final decision is expected later this year.

Read more in Frontline

Picture by josemiguels, courtesy of Pixabay