E-Commerce Product Liability Decisions

E-commerce plays a significant role in our lives. Today we use e-commerce sites such as Amazon, Etsy, and eBay to make most of our purchases. While e-commerce speeds up the buying process and increases accessibility, it also introduces new legal questions and complications. 

When a product from a physical store turns out to be defective, the store can be held liable for any damage the product causes. However, when a defective product from a third-party seller is purchased on an e-commerce website and injures a consumer, liability isn’t as clearly defined.

At CaseyGerry, we believe the online seller should be held liable – whether it’s a third-party seller or an e-commerce facilitator. We have successfully held online sellers accountable in the past and are committed to representing you. 

What Is Product Liability? 

Product liability is the area of law where anyone from the manufacturer, distributor, retailer or supplier of the product can be held liable for any damage the product causes. We understand how product liability works when it involves a brick-and-mortar store: When a customer buys a defective product from a physical store, the store can be held responsible for any injuries the consumer sustains. The general idea is that the store selling the product and making profits off it should bear responsibility. The store also has the power to remove the products off its shelves and hold manufacturers accountable. 

Product Liability in E-commerce 

E-commerce companies such as Amazon, Etsy, and eBay provide a platform connecting third-party sellers with consumers. However, they often try to deny liability when something goes wrong with the product they are selling in their marketplace. They believe that as facilitators, they should not be held responsible for the defective product. 

The attorneys at CaseyGerry have successfully challenged this stance in Bolger v. Amazon.com, LLC, arguing that e-commerce companies acting like sellers should be held liable for defective products sold on their platforms. In Bolger v. Amazon.com, LLC, Ms. Bolger suffered third-degree burns from a replacement laptop battery she purchased from a third-party seller on Amazon – a Chinese vendor who was listed under the fake name of “E-Life.” 

In this case, the court ruled that Amazon can be held liable because it directly connected the consumer (Ms. Bolger) to the defective product (battery) by providing the following services: accepting the battery from the seller, storing it in the Amazon warehouse, attracting Ms. Bolger to the battery on its website, providing her with a product listing, receiving her payment from the product, and shipping the product in Amazon packaging. 

Contact us if you have any questions regarding this case or the topic of E-Commerce Product Liability.