Amazon is entangled in local legal cases that could set off lawsuits for
third-party products sold on its platform.
May 27, 2021”Emerging legal rulings holding online retailers
liable for defective third-party products could cause a ripple effect of
lawsuits if more courts across the nation adopt that position, according to
a panel of legal experts at an event hosted by the Information Technology &
Innovation Foundation on Wednesday.
Product liability law has traditionally held that the
“seller” of products are responsible for the defects
those products may have. You buy a curling iron from Target, for instance,
not directly from Dyson. Target is the seller, and in the case of product
defection, Target may be the responsible party.
But Amazon has avoided the legal distinction of seller until recently by
arguing that they merely act as the middleman in transactions, and that when
items are purchased from its website, business is done directly with the
manufacturer, which would be responsible in any legal proceeding. Some have
argued that this insulation from liability has made e-commerce companies
like Amazon far too powerful.
But two rulings in California and one outstanding case in Texas are
challenging that assumption.