As Amazon's sales skyrocket (net revenue in 2020 of $385 billion), it's clear that many consumers are using the service as if it were a local store.
In fact, many of us are buying the majority of our goods from the company.
Given their massive sales volume, it was just a matter of time before consumers sought legal recourse against Amazon for harm done by defective or dangerous products sold on the platform.
And indeed, that is just what is happening.
In one case, a mother who purchased a knockoff Apple remote on Amazon is suing the company after the remote's battery pack burned her young daughter.
Why might Amazon be liable?
It turns out the plaintiff first sought to contact the company selling the remote – a "Hu Xi Jie" from Shenzhen, China. When he went unaccounted for (both the plaintiff and Amazon tried locating him), this mom turned her sights on Amazon.
The lawyers for the plaintiff argue that consumers do use Amazon as if it were a physical store – and since brick-and-mortar retailers can be held liable for selling unsafe products, the same should hold true for Amazon.
Amazon claims it only plays the role of middleman in transactions. However, this claim appears to be losing its hold on the courts. Last year a California court ruled that Amazon is, in fact, liable if it sells defective products – a decision that the state's Supreme Court refused to hear – effectively backing the ruling of the lower court.
Amazon's defense against these cases involves the concept of scale. They claim they simply can't vet every product brought to market on the platform – there are far too many products to make that possible.
Sorry – but in our view, that is a poor defense.
Sure, other big tech companies can vet content using artificial intelligence (think Instagram or Facebook) – making it easier for them to police their sites (or so it is claimed).
But the decision to operate on such a massive scale was Amazon's. And as a Texan judge recently pointed out, "scale" doesn't give the company the right to sell dangerous "junk" while taking no responsibility for the harm caused by those transactions.
If you or a loved one are ever injured by a defective product, know that the Connecticut personal injury lawyers at RisCassi & Davis have been assisting people like you who've been injured in these accidents for over 60 years. And we have received both state and national recognition for our work in this area. If you are ever injured in an accident of any kind and would like a free consultation with one of our Connecticut personal injury lawyers, please contact us. There is no obligation.