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Not Even Amazon Can Escape Liability for Defective Products

On Behalf of | Jun 29, 2021 | Product Liability

Almost any type of product can end up being defective or unsafe for use as a result of a faulty design, manufacturing defect, improper instructions, or lack of warning about their use.

Where do most consumers get products these days? Amazon. So, it makes sense that Amazon can be held liable for defective products sold on their online marketplace, as recently confirmed by two separate California Appellate District Court decisions.

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury caused by a defective product, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. Our Southern California products liability attorneys at Licata & Yeremenko, A Professional Law Corporation have years of experience successfully representing clients who have been harmed by defective products.

Background of the Amazon Rulings

Recently, there were two noteworthy products liability cases that came to the same conclusion: Amazon can be held strictly liable for defective products sold on their marketplace.

For years, Amazon has avoided liability for products sold on their website because most of these products come from third-party companies. This allowed Amazon to defend against product liability claims using the excuse that they do not manufacture, sell, or ship these products. However, two recent California Appellate District Court decisions in Loomis v. LLC and Bolger v., LLC no longer allow Amazon to use this excuse.

These cases could have a big impact on Amazon’s operations and e-commerce as a whole. As of the latest reporting year, 95 million people in the United States had Amazon prime memberships – up by 10 million from the previous year. Additionally, Amazon has more than 12 million products listed on its marketplace website. This means that Amazon could be held strictly liable for the over 12 million products that they have listed on their website.

Understanding the Amazon Rulings

Amazon will, of course, continue to fight these rulings. A spokesperson for Amazon was quoted by CNBC stating, “The court’s decision was wrongly decided and is contrary to well-established law in California and around the country that service providers are not liable for third party products they do not make or sell. We will appeal this decision.”

In their decisions, the California Appellate District Courts found that Amazon is strictly liable for defective products sold on their marketplace for several reasons. First, Amazon was a link in the chain of distribution for the products sold on their online marketplace. In addition, the courts determined that Amazon was:

  • Storing third-party products in warehouses,
  • Receiving payment and shipping products,
  • Setting the terms of its relationship agreements, and
  • Demanding fees on each purchase.

Finally, the courts also determined Amazon could not be shielded from liability through Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protected online platforms from being held responsible for the content their users posted on their websites.

What is Next for Amazon?

As these cases will have a big impact on product liability cases in California and possibly across the United States, these cases will be watched closely going forward. For now, Amazon will continue to fight against these rulings. It is possible that we may even see this case reach the Supreme Court.

If you or someone you care about has been injured or become ill due to a defective product, contact a Southern California products liability attorney today. Time is of the essence. At Licata & Yeremenko, A Professional Law Corporation, we pledge to thoroughly look into your potential case in order to provide you with the guidance you need.

As a service to our clients living through Southern California, we offer free initial consultation either at our law office or over the phone at 818-783-5757. Contact us today to discuss your case.