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Are E-Commerce Platforms Liable in Defective Products Cases?

Nichol & Associates, Attorneys at Law July 21, 2020

Legal rulings can send ripple effects through the corporate world. Someone injured in a product liability incident in Tennessee can look towards a recent appellate court ruling when filing a lawsuit. E-commerce platforms may now share liability when facilitating the sale of the product.

In a dramatic ruling, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals stated Amazon might be “strictly liable” for products sold on its platform by third-party vendors. The ruling, of course, does not stop with Amazon. eBay and other platforms may find themselves “strictly liable” under the law, as well.

The decision surprised many, as other courts came to the opposite conclusion in similar lawsuits. Amazon chose to appeal the decision to the en banc 14-panel court. The ruling may eventually go to the Supreme Court, regardless of how the court rules.

Amazon faced a lawsuit after a defective dog leash blinded a customer. The customer sued Amazon as a “seller” of a defective product. Amazon claims it is not a “seller.”

For persons injured by defective products, suing an e-commerce platform could have positive ramifications. A startup business could sell a dangerous product that causes severe injuries. The small business may lack the resources to pay compensation to the injured person. A multi-billion-dollar corporation would have the funds to make a lawsuit feasible.

In time, the legal questions about suing e-commerce platforms will receive an answer. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will provide a definitive answer.

An attorney who handles product liability cases could seek damages on behalf of an injured client. The attorney might even represent the client on the appellate level.

Often, defective products cases revolve around settlement offers. Whether negotiating with an insurance provider or the company/seller itself, an attorney is in a position to represent his or her client’s interests.