Can Amazon Be Found Liable for Defaults in Products Sold by Third-Party Vendors?

There is no end to the convivence that can come with shopping at Amazon and with other online retailers but there can be some serious downsides too. Today we will look at a decision by the federal appellate that looked at whether or not shopping with (referenced throughout the rest of this blog as simply Amazon) can be held responsible for lawsuits from people who bought defective products from third-party vendors on Amazon.

The Findings of Courts Regarding Amazon Third-Party Vendors

Recently, a federal appellate court ruled that Amazon could be held responsible in lawsuits for damages caused by third-party products sold on their website. Several other courts have found that Amazon is not liable for these damages, but the recent ruling, which came from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, has reversed a lower court decision.

The Facts About Third-Party Vendors Selling on Amazon

Amazon sells its own inventory on its website but they also allow third-party vendors to do so. In some cases, the seller will store their product at Amazon’s warehouse and they will be shipped by Amazon, while in other instances the seller will ship the product directly to the customer. According to data from Reuters, Amazon makes about $11 billion in revenue from services they provide to third-party sellers in a single quarter. About 50% of the items that are sold on their website are actually sold from third-party vendors.

In most cases, who is liable for a defective product will depend on state law. The court decision referenced above was in Pennsylvania, where the customer lived. The plaintiff sued Amazon after she was blinded in one eye when a retractable dog leash snapped and hit her in the eye. The leash in question was bought on Amazon but was sold by a third-party vendor.

In this particular case, it has been impossible to hold the third-party responsible because they have not sold anything on Amazon for three years and they are essentially hiding. This is one of the reasons that the judge in the above-referenced case said Amazon could be held responsible – their website makes it possible for these vendors to hide from customers which leaves no recourse for injured customers.

The case in question is far from over – the appeal simply set the case back to the lower court. Now the case will be heard and it will be determined if the leash was defective and if this defect caused the injuries the plaintiff claims it did.

If you have been injured by a defective product and are in need of a legal opinion, we strongly recommend you contact The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker at 800-333-0000 for a free legal consultation. We will begin by listening to your side of the story and will help determine if you have a case. Call now and let us get started right away.