Dangerous products can pose a significant risk to consumers in California. Many times these hazardous products leave innocent and unsuspecting individuals seriously injured. In the worst cases, victims die from these injuries. The dangers can present themselves several ways, which is why the law places liability on manufacturers, distributors, and/or retailers who fail to ensure that consumers are safe from the harms posed by their products.
Yet, the law as it stands now protects companies from liability when third-party put claims regarding their products on the company's website. This means that online retailers like Amazon can't be sued for harmful products that are sold on their sites by third-party vendors. This law was enacted in 1996, though, when online retailers were miniscule compared to today.
The interpretation of this law may be about to change, though. Recently, a Third Circuit Court of Appeals panel found that a woman's product liability lawsuit, centered on a defective retractable pet leash that snapped back and partially blinded her, could move forward against Amazon, even though it was merely a platform through which a third-party sold the product. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that Amazon's role in this case was much more than editorial in nature, and the current law, which seeks to protect against liability for merely publishing third-party claims, doesn't go so far to cover online transactions conducted through retailers like Amazon.
All eyes will be on this woman's case as it could revolutionize the way product liability cases are handled and how online business is conducted. Although the legal ramifications of this case are interesting, the personal ramifications for the woman are tragic, as are the effects felt by countless others who are affected by dangerous products. Those victims who want accountability and a chance to recover compensation for their damages may want to work with a legal advocate who may be able to help them with their legal claim.