An appeals court recently issued an opinion in a case that may have drastic consequences on Florida product liability lawsuits. The decision pertained to a case involving a plaintiff who filed a lawsuit against Amazon for injuries she suffered from a hoverboard she purchased on the website from a third-party seller. The court was tasked with determining whether Amazon could be held strictly liable for defective products on its site.
The massive online retailer argued that it was not liable for the victim’s injuries because Amazon merely operates as a service provider and not as the seller or supplier of the product. In support of its argument, Amazon argued that it did not possess any proactive authority over the item and could merely address safety issues after they had been reported.
Despite Amazon’s contentions, the court upheld previous decisions finding Amazon strictly liable for the defective product. The court reasoned that Amazon played a “pivotal” role in bringing the product to the consumer. Further, the court stated that Amazon would need to bear the consequences of its business model of placing itself in the vertical chain of distribution of the defective hoverboard.
Amazon argued that the prior decisions the court relied upon were not applicable in light of the recent changes to the modern economy. The court disagreed, finding that prior decisions could be extended into modern product liability claims. Further, the court found that the online retailer might be liable under the “stream of commerce” theory. Under this approach, a retailer may be liable if they obtain a financial benefit from a transaction, were integral to providing the consumer a product, and if they can influence the manufacturing process.
The court also addressed public policy considerations for its decision, explaining that holding online retailers responsible provides incentives for these companies to comport with and enforce safety standards. These companies may be more likely to take measures to minimize accidents if their financial standing is on the line.
The decision may impact Florida cases stemming from defective products on Amazon. As courts continue to rule against the internet giant, it will become harder for Amazon to maintain its claim of immunity from these lawsuits. Although this case revolved around Amazon’s liability, the decision may extend to other online marketplace distributors and retailers. Those who suffer injuries from products purchased on these websites may see the tide change in their favor.
Have You Suffered Injuries Because of an Unsafe or Defective Product?
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries because of a defective product, contact Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada for assistance. The Florida product liability attorneys at our office have extensive knowledge of how statutory and case laws may affect injury lawsuits. We handle claims arising from defective products, premises liability, car, truck, and boat accidents, and medical malpractice. Our law firm has been providing Florida injury victims with excellent and effective representation since 1976. We have recovered significant sums of compensation on behalf of our clients. Contact our office at 877-448-8585, to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced attorney.