An exploding e-cigarette battery that burned down a house. A retractable dog leash that destroyed the owner’s eyesight. These are just a few of the defective product claims that have been filed against Amazon Marketplace, as the civil courts continue to decide Amazon’s share of liability for products purchased through its platform.
While most people think of Amazon as a mere third party in their online transactions, dozens of plaintiffs have come forward in recent years, all looking to hold Amazon accountable for their defective product injuries. Claiming that the tech giant is a seller just like any other, these plaintiffs have maintained that Amazon is responsible for performing basic safety checks and ensuring that its online vendors are fully vetted. But is there any validity to these claims?
AMAZON CONTINUES TO WIN THE BATTLE FOR PRODUCT LIABILITY
So far, most of the product liability claims brought against Amazon have been unsuccessful in federal appeals courts. In 2018, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decisive ruling in the case known as Fox v. Amazon, which involved a family that had suffered serious losses due to an exploding hoverboard. Although the Fox family sued Amazon for over $30 million in damages, the presiding judge ultimately sided with the tech giant, writing that “Amazon’s role in the transaction was to provide a mechanism to facilitate the interchange between the entity seeking to sell the product and the individual who sought to buy it.”
In Fox v. Amazon, however, the plaintiffs did have ample evidence that Amazon executives knew about the risks of selling hoverboards. Court documents demonstrated that even the Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, had received email messages from customers affected by exploding hoverboards. In the lawsuit, lead plaintiff Megan Fox argued that Amazon effectively became a “co-seller” of the defective device, particularly because no one has been able to identify the Chinese manufacturer behind these hoverboards. In spite of these compelling arguments, Amazon prevailed.
THE THREE MAIN TYPES OF PRODUCT LIABILITY CLAIM
In a product liability claim, injury victims have three main strategies for proving that a company is liable for their injuries. The first strategy is to show that the company created a defective product – and this argument is most often used against product manufacturers and part producers. The second strategy is to demonstrate that the design of the product was faulty from the beginning, and typically, this kind of claim is most successful against the retailer or seller that owns the product.
While neither of these two strategies apply to Amazon’s business model, however, there is a third and final type of product liability claim that can be used against the tech giant. By showing that a company failed to provide adequate safety warnings, plaintiffs can sometimes recover damages from third parties and marketers who engage in deceptive advertising practices. Although this argument has not proved to be successful against Amazon thus far, it’s possible that future plaintiffs could find a sympathetic ear with this tactic.
STANDING UP FOR INJURY VICTIMS IN WACO
No matter their size, companies have a responsibility to protect consumers from undue harm. At the Law Offices of Vic Feazell, P.C., our defective product lawyers won’t stop until we can get the compensation that you deserve from a negligent corporation. By investigating every detail of your case and creating a comprehensive case strategy, we can help you seek justice for serious injuries incurred by products.
Do you believe that you have a product liability claim in Waco? Contact us at today for more information.