Over the last couple of decades, online companies have radically changed the way consumers purchased products. Amazon, the internet retail giant, is one the biggest companies providing countless products of nearly every type to people across the globe. Residents of Connecticut and elsewhere may wonder who is liable for injuries resulting from a product that was purchased on Amazon. A recent appeals court decision may challenge the way these unique cases are handled.
Traditionally, the manufacturer or seller of a defective product is held responsible for adverse events regarding the product. However, about half of the products listed on Amazon are from third-party companies. What happens if the injured party is unable to reach the owners of a third-party company that listed its items in an online store?
In 2016, a woman who claimed to have been blinded by a defective dog leash she purchased on Amazon from a third-party company, the Furry Gang, sued Amazon. Reuters reported that two federal appeals courts had previously ruled that Amazon is not liable for products sold by third-party vendors. However, the 3rd U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, overturned the prior decisions and stated that when injured consumers have no direct recourse to third-party vendors, Amazon may be partly liable. Neither the injured woman nor Amazon were able to locate anyone from the Furry Gang, which has been inactive on Amazon since 2016.
Although the full outcome of this case remains to be seen, the appeals court decision may set a precedent for how litigation involving online retailers and third-party companies is handled.