Amazon has argued before the Texas Supreme Court that it should not be held liable for defective products sold through its site. According to a news report, the case currently before the Texas Supreme Court involves a 19-month-old toddler who suffered permanent damage to her esophagus when she ingested a lithium-ion batter that popped out of a remote control.
For several years now, Amazon has claimed it is not liable in such product liability cases because it functions as a middleman for sales made through its Marketplace platform. However, over the years, many customers who purchased defective products on the site from third-party vendors have suffered injuries including one woman who was blinded by a defective dog leash and another who was burned by a laptop battery.
Amazon’s ‘Middleman’ Defense
The toddler’s mother in the Texas case bought a knockoff Apple TV remote from a third-party vendor on Amazon. After the battery burned her daughter, she sought to find out who was behind the Amazon storefront. She discovered it was run by a company out of Shenzhen, China. Neither the mother nor Amazon has been able to locate that company.
Lawyers for the child’s mother have argued that Amazon is liable for the defective product and should remove it since the site serves the same function as a brick-and-mortar retail store. Such physical stores are typically held liable for injuries caused by defective products if they fail to keep those items off consumers’ hands.
While courts have previously ruled that online marketplaces are not subject to the same rules since they don’t exercise the same level of control, that may be changing now. Amazon’s defense in product liability cases that it is a “middleman” is starting to look increasingly thin. A California appellate court ruled last year that the company could be held liable in such cases and the state’s supreme court declined to review it, essentially upholding that ruling.
The Issue of Accountability
We are pleased to see that courts are taking note of the lack of validity in Amazon’s defense that it should not be held in any way responsible for defective products sold in its online marketplace, which has been seriously injuring consumers. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of products purchased on Amazon, please contact an experienced product defect lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your rights. You may be able to seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, rehabilitation and pain and suffering.