Amazon Targeted in Hoverboard Lawsuit
Amazon has been targeted in two recent lawsuits over products that the company sold online. The first involved a dog leash that snapped back and blinded a woman in Pennsylvania and the second involved a hoverboard that caught fire and destroyed a family’s home. In both of these cases, Amazon acted as vendor of a product and not the manufacturer. On that basis, they sought to dismiss the lawsuit. In both cases, they were prevented from doing so.
The question revolves around what kind of liability a vendor has in making products available to the public. Below, we’ll take a closer look at that question and this case.
Products Liability Lawsuits
When a defective product causes damage or injures one of its customers, the customer does not need to prove negligence. They only need to show that, in an expected use of the product, it malfunctioned and caused injury.
However, if the same injured party wants to sue the vendor, they do have to prove negligence. They need to prove that the vendor either knew or should have known that the product that they were selling had the potential to malfunction and cause injury.
In this case, Amazon had fielded several complaints concerning the hoverboard that indicated that the product did have a propensity to catch fire. That’s all a Tennessee court needed to allow the case to move forward.
This Was an Easy Case to Prove
Vendors are typically shielded from liability in lawsuits like this. The plaintiff must be able to prove what the vendor knew or should have known. That’s a fairly high bar to reach. But in this case, the writing was all over the wall. The company that manufactured the hoverboards, which has itself been the target of several lawsuits, ceased production of the devices pending an investigation into the cause. Amazon continued to sell this product online, however, without warning customers and without protecting them from a dangerous product. Amazon is clearly culpable in this case.
The Dog Leash Injury Case
The second case was less cut and dry. Amazon acted as a vendor for a dog leash that snapped back and blinded a Pennsylvania woman. The lower court ruling determined that Amazon could not be held liable under Pennsylvania’s product liability law. However, the case moved to federal court where, on appeal, the judges ruled that because Amazon shields its customers from third-party vendors, it creates a liability hole where customers are not able to sue anyone for injuries they receive.
For years, Amazon had enjoyed a precedent that shielded it from liability under a restrictive definition of the word “seller” in most jurisdictions. However, this court case is likely to spur a change in policy that allows customers more access to third-party vendors who use the Amazon platform to purchase products.
Talk to a Houston Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured by a dangerous product you purchased on Amazon, the Houston personal injury lawyers at Livingston & Flowers, P.L.L.C. may be able to help you hold Amazon responsible for distributing that product. Talk to us today for a free consultation.