For decades, the tech giant Amazon has avoided liability for defective products sold on their platform. However, with a recent court decision in New York, the tides are beginning to turn.
The Empire State has joined a growing list of jurisdictions in deciding that Amazon can be held accountable for products sold by third parties on their marketplace.
The case, State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v. Amazon.com Servs., Inc., hinged on the level of control Amazon exerts over third-party sellers. More specifically, the court was particularly interested in Amazon’s “Fulfillment by Amazon” (FBA) logistical program.
The FBA allows sellers to store their inventory at an Amazon warehouse. When a product is ordered, Amazon packages and ships the product to its destination.
What was the question before the court? Does Amazon exhibit sufficient control over the products it handles through its FBA program to be liable if those products are defective? A majority of the judges answered in the affirmative. Furthermore, the judges stated that Amazon must share responsibility for the products sold on its platform if it’s going to reap the benefit.
“It is Amazon who sets the rules of the transaction to which the consumer purchases the item. If a consumer has a problem with a product, it is Amazon who they contact. It is Amazon who demands indemnification in their services agreement. Amazon seeks to have all the benefits of the traditional brick and mortar storefront without any of the responsibilities,” the opinion reads.
Victims have rights
Being injured by a defective product can change a person’s life. They may suffer serious injuries, job loss, and medical debt.
Although the situation may be dire, victims have rights under the law. A person injured because of a defective product can file a lawsuit against the product’s maker. A successful lawsuit could result in a considerable financial award for the victim and their family.
It’s important to take action as soon as possible. Texas places a two-year statute of limitations on product liability suits; hesitating could mean permanently forfeiting the right to legal recourse.