Amazon Faces Accountability For Defective Products From Online Sellers

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Published on 23 Aug 2020, 18:00
Via America's Lawyer: Amazon can now be held liable for defective products purchased from its marketplace, including from third-party vendors. Legal journalist Mollye Barrows joins Mike Papantonio to discuss.

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*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

A California appeals courts ruled that Amazon can be held liable for defective products sold on its marketplace. Legal journalist Mollye Barrows talks about that with me. Mollye, this is so long overdue.
Okay. Amazon puts the product into the chain of commerce. Alright. As long as there's no modification, no change to the product, there's a term called strict liability. You've put it out there, you've stood behind it in terms of strict liability. It's killed somebody, it's injured somebody and now the ninth circuit has says, you know, I don't think we're gonna let Amazon get away with that anymore.
That's exactly right. And this came out of the appeals court in California. It's based around a San Diego woman who ordered a, basically a replacement battery for her laptop through a third party seller on Amazon and when she received the battery, it exploded. It gave her third degree burns, caused her serious injuries, and she basically said, hey, I'm suing the manufacturer of this, the company that I bought this from, as well as Amazon, because you were negligent in allowing this product to be sold. And Amazon used the defense which it always uses because it's faced other liability type lawsuits where they were being held responsible for damage or injuries that somebody received from a third party seller, and Amazon said what they said in those cases, which is, hey, yo, wait, we're not a seller. We're just providing you a platform to give you buyers and consumers and sellers a place to interact and exchange your, you know, to go through the selling process. Well, in this case, the court said, wait a second, Amazon, you're in this every step of the way with this distribution process whether you want to call yourself a distributor or a facilitator or a seller, or even a retailer, your behavior is that of a seller.
So you're responsibility?
There's plenty, there's plenty of examples of this with other companies over the years. I'm amazed that it's taken this long to tell you the truth.
But it had to be, I suppose it had to be the right case with the right facts situation.
But this is no different. I mean, if you listen to what the distributors, for example, in the opioid case had to say, they say, well, we just distributed it. We didn't do anything. We didn't make it.
We didn't know it was poisonous and addictive.
We didn't have, we didn't have any idea what was really going on, we just distributed it. And so Amazon wants to say the same thing.
That's right.
They want to say, oh no, we're just putting it out there.
We're just a Craigslist.
No due diligence, at all.
Isn't that part of the problem?
That's exactly what the problem is. If you go into Lowe's or Home Depot or any average retailer, if you will, and you buy a product and it hurts you, they're just as responsible as the person who created the product, because they're the re, the retailer, they've taken on that responsibility. That's the way our laws work. And basically Amazon is not wanting to have that responsibility by saying, we're not the seller. We're not to be held responsible. We don't have to go to this rigorous safety process to make sure that this products safe, like your average retailer would have to do that. So I imagine there's a lot of reasons Amazon doesn't want to, this is bad news for Amazon, for a number of reasons. 60% of their business, they say now is coming from these third party sellers. And people half the time when they go to Amazon, they don't know the difference between Amazon marketplace, which is where you buy, you know, Amazon goods and then the other part, which is where you buy from third party sellers.

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