Amazon is facing another court battle over whether it is responsible for the safety of products sold on its platform by third party sellers after a 19-month-old child was left severely burned.
The Texas Supreme Court is deciding whether Amazon should be held liable after a child ingested a lithium battery from a product sold on its platform which failed to meet safety standards.
Amazon told the court that it was simply acted as a middleman, and that it was “not realistic” to expect it to check the millions of products on its platform met industry standards.
However, this would not be the first legal case in which Amazon’s “middleman” defence was ruled insufficient and it was judged liable for the safety of its products.
In August 2020, the California Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that Amazon can now be held liable for any injuries caused by defective products sold by third party merchants on its platform, overturning a previous ruling by the San Diego Superior Court.
“The tide has changed now,” Brooklyn Law School professor Aaron Twerski told the Financial Times.
“I think (Amazon is) dead in the water, because they’re wrong. They’re just plain simply wrong.”
While some states including Ohio and Illinois have voted in favour of Amazon, each ruling threatens to have significant impact on other online marketplaces like Ebay and Etsy, which have seen the number of both sellers and buyers swell during lockdown.
The Texas court is expected to come to a decision by June.