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Amazon Not Liable for Third-Party Vendor Product Defects

Posted on January 1, 2018

When Heather Oberdorf purchased a leash from seller “The Furry Gang” on Amazon.com, she didn’t know it was defective. She found out about a month later while on a dog walk, when it snapped back in her face, blinding her permanently in one eye. When Oberdorf couldn’t locate or contact the seller, she brought suit against Amazon.com for product liability; breach of warranty and duty; and negligence, as recently reported in The Legal Intelligencer.

Could Amazon.com be held accountable? At issue is whether Amazon.com is a seller under Pennsylvania’s products liability law or merely an online marketplace. U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann chose the latter, ruling in favor of Amazon.com. “The Amazon Marketplace serves as a sort of newspaper classified ad section, connecting potential consumers with eager sellers in an efficient, modern, streamlined manner,” he noted. “And because Amazon has ‘no role in the selection of the goods to be sold,’ it also cannot have any ‘direct impact upon the manufacturer of the products’ sold by the third-party vendors.”

While Amazon.com was dismissed in this case, many entities associated with a defective product may be held accountable for product defects, including the designer, manufacturer, seller, distributor and others. If you would like to discuss the details of a product liability case with an experienced attorney, we welcome you to contact us anytime.