Amazon.com And The Liability Shield

 Thursday, August 1, 2019

 Matthiesen, Wickert & Lehrer, S.C.

Amazon.com is the world’s largest online retail marketplace.

In the subrogation world, it’s common knowledge that, in states that allow strict liability claims against entities in the supply chain, Amazon attempts to preclude any liability by arguing that it is not a “seller” of a product in question.

Instead, Amazon has successfully argued that it only provides a platform for a buyer and seller to connect for the purchase of a product; therefore, it should not be subject to strict products liability.

However, in two recent decisions, this argument has failed. First, in Oberdorf v. Amazon.com, Inc., __ F.3d __, 2019 WL 2849153 (3rd Cir. July 3, 2019), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals found that Amazon should be liable under Pennsylvania law for injuries related to a failed dog collar.

The District Court had initially dismissed the strict product liability claims against Amazon, finding that it is not a “seller” because a third-party vendor had listed the product on the Amazon website and had shipped the collar directly to the plaintiff.
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