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 Amazon’s Liability to Consumers

  Neal Bhushan  |  May 7, 2021  |  

The internet retail giant Amazon has continued to grow and post record profits year after year. As Amazon continues to expand in the New York City metropolitan area, more questions have been raised about whether it can be liable for the acts of its third-party sellers, such as selling defective products. 

Recently, the California Court of Appeals in the case of Loomis v. Amazon.com, LLC, No. B297995 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. Apr. 26, 2011) held that Amazon could be strictly liable for a product defect under California law. In Loomis, a customer ordered a hoverboard from a third-party Amazon seller based in China. The seller did not use the Fulfillment By Amazon service. The hoverboard exploded, injuring the customer, who brought suit against Amazon. 

The Court reasoned that Amazon interacted with the customer, took the customer’s order, processed the order to the third-party seller, collected the money, and was paid a fee for the sale. Amazon’s extensive involvement meant that it was effectively a retailer, not just a shopping mall owner leasing space to independent vendors.

Defective products, including children’s toys, home improvement tools, lawn equipment, auto parts, exercise equipment, can cause serious injuries. For over half a century, the personal injury attorneys at the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm have been representing those who have been harmed by defective products, holding at-fault parties responsible for pain, suffering, lost wages, and other losses.

As the Loomis court noted, courts in several other states (including Ohio, Tennessee, Illinois, and Wisconsin) have held that Amazon is not strictly liable for products sold by third-party sellers. So while California is likely to impose strict liability on Amazon for third-party products going forward, that may not be the case in other states. 

While the law in New York and the surrounding metropolitan area is rapidly changing as technology becomes more integrated with our lives, Amazon’s liability for the acts of third-party sellers remains an open question for now, as states each come to their own conclusions on the topic.

Contact us to schedule your free case evaluation with one of our New York product liability attorneys to get the legal advice you need. Our legal team serves clients in Manhattan, all five boroughs of New York, and throughout the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. You can reach us at 212-869-3500.

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