Amazon Products Liability Lawsuits: How Recent Court Rulings Could Impact the E-Commerce Company


In today’s fast-paced world, we have become accustomed to having the option to go online, find what we need, and purchase those items within a matter of minutes. Everything from a new phone case to a week’s worth of groceries is just a few clicks away. One of the websites we often turn to for these tasks is e-commerce giant Amazon. While typically consumers feel comfortable making frequent purchases from the site, a recent products liability suit found third-party manufacturers used by Amazon could impact the quality and safety of products sold—but what about the impact on the e-commerce company itself?

The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently ruled in Papataros v. Amazon.com, Inc., D.N.J., No. 2:17, that a New Jersey woman could indeed pursue a lawsuit against Amazon. This was after a hoverboard purchased through the platform via a third-party company located in China for the woman’s son caught fire and injured him. The Sixth Circuit decision came after a Pennsylvania-based appeals court determined that under state products liability law, Amazon could be sued in a separate case over a third-part defective retractable dog leash that left a woman blind in one eye; which is currently under en banc review.

Amazon wants a New Jersey federal court to rescind or to put a hold on a ruling stating it can be held liable in the state for the sale of an allegedly defective hoverboard. Amazon maintains that the trial court relied on a Third Circuit panel decision finding that. Amazon could in-fact be a “seller” under state law.  However, this opinion has been subsequently vacated for en banc review.

According to its most recent quarterly earnings report, Amazon’s third-party sales account for more than $11 billion in revenue for the company. This decision represented a reversal from previous findings with regards to Amazon’s liability for defective third-party products sold through its platform and is a concern for all selling products online. However, as products liability is often a matter of state law, it is not certain how big of a problem this will be for on-line retailers.

Texas Products Liability Defense Attorneys

Product manufacturers know that even the most vigilant, safety-conscious companies must be prepared to respond to serious products liability claims and that the potential exposure for defendants can be extraordinarily high. Having represented clients in many industries, the experienced attorneys at MehaffyWeber have a depth of experience and knowledge across many fields. If your business could benefit from products liability defense counsel, contact us today for more information on how we can help.