Amazon is being sued by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) which hopes to force the retailer to recall hundreds of thousands of potentially deadly products.
The CPSC has filed an administrative complaint against Amazon today in a bid to force it to accept responsibility for removing vast quantities of hazardous products sold by third-party sellers on its platform.
The products in question included nearly 400,000 hair dryers sold without protection against electrocution, 24,000 faulty carbon monoxide detectors that fail to alarm and numerous children’s garments which are in violation of flammable fabric safety standards.
“Today’s vote to file an administrative complaint against Amazon was a huge step forward for this small agency,” acting CPSC chairman Robert Adler said.
“But it’s a huge step across a vast desert—we must grapple with how to deal with these massive third-party platforms more efficiently, and how best to protect the American consumers who rely on them.”
Amazon, which says it has removed the “vast majority” of products in question and provided full refunds, has until now avoided legal responsibility for the items sold by third-party sellers on its platform arguing that it simply acts as a “service provider”.
However, an increasing number of legal battles have seen Amazon forced to take more responsibility for items sold on its platform.
In August last year, the California Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled 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.
Then, in March this year, Amazon faced another court battle over whether it is responsible for the safety of products sold on its platform after a 19-month-old child was left severely burned.
“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.”