Amazon Has To Take Responsibility For Defective Third-Party Products


A complaint registered against Amazon back in 2014 stated that a dog collar purchased from a third party recoiled and caused permanent loss of vision to a woman in Pennsylvania.

The woman who registered the complaint, called Heather Oberdorf, purchased the dog collar in question from a third-party seller. When she received it, she took her dog out on a walk while it was wearing the collar purchased on Amazon but the collar broke and snapped back the leash directly into her face, blinding her in one eye. The original seller could not be found, so Oberdorf sued Amazon for negligence instead. 

The U.S Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit found Amazon liable for this situation, in spite of the fact that the company has previously managed to escape being held responsible for the mishaps third-party products caused. 

Amazon does sell its own products but also allows other vendors to do the same via the Marketplace platform. The company gives them the exposure they need to get their products out into the world and in return, takes a cut from the profits. 

The ruling was filed on July 3rd and the third-party collar supplier has magically disappeared into thin air since then so the court rules that, considering Amazon does not have a process set in place that can guarantee the “third-party vendors are in good standing”, it’s on them to deal with the issues caused by the defective product. 

The original court ruling stated that Amazon was protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which states that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

However, Oberdrof appealed that ruling and the second time around, the odds were in her favor. The court case has been sent to the lower court, which will determine what consequences Amazon will have to face and what changes will need to be made. 

Amazon’s defense stated in a legal filing that the courts decision “would have costs as well as benefits, for small entrepreneurs who might be excluded as too risky, and for consumers whose access to all goods would likely be reduced with greater scrutiny of sellers.”

Amazon earned around $11 billion in revenue from the services it has provided to third-party sellers, according to the quarter that ended in March and it’s worth mentioning that over half of the items sold across the platform come from third-party companies. 


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