Amazon Did not Take Responsibility for the Damage Done by Third-Party Seller's Products
Now, more and more third-party sellers settled in the Amazon platform. So if the product of third-party seller have quality problems and resulting in consumer injury, who is respinsible for it ? the platform or a third-party seller? During the 2017 final shopping season, the Federal District Court in Central Pennsylvania made a important judgment about the Oberdorf and Amazon case – Amazon did not take responsibility for the damage done by third-party seller's products.
Judge Matthew W. Brann's sentence is partial to Amazon. In the case, a female consumer claimed to have been injured by a product sold by a third party seller on the Amazon platform. It is understood that the plaintiff Oberdorf bought a retractable dog chain from third-party sellers through the Amazon. According to the court, Mrs. Oberdorf suffered severe eye injuries and a loss of consortium due to a faulty dog chain. The plaintiff, after being unable to contact third party sellers and dog chain manufacturers, filed a lawsuit against Amazon and filed a claim for strict liability, negligence, breach of promise, false description and loss of interest in family relations. Then, Amazon demanded a summary verdict, the court approved it and in support of Amazon's statement to the plaintiff.
The court begins with a strict liability claim. Whether a strict liability claim is real depends largely on whether Amazon meets the "seller" in Section 402A of the "Restatement of the law, Second, Torts" (Note that the United States does not have a unified program to address product liability issues, while some states have passed product liability laws, and Pennsylvania and other states have passed "second tort law" in whole or in part, so the case is dealed based on that rule.) The court explained that since the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has not ruled that the platforms such as the Amazon platform that provide e-commerce sales services meet the "sellers" requirement of Section 402A, the court regards the Musse and Vilsmeier Auction cases as judgement guide. In the case of Musse and Vilsmeier Auction, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that under Section 402A, the person supplying the product that could endanger the personal and property safety was responsible for product safety. Auctioneer (1) did not intervene in the choice of product for sale; 2) There is no way to check the quality of the auctioned products one by one. (3) There is no direct impact on the manufacture of the auctioned products.
Therefore, the court thinks Amazon is more like a "third-party auctioneer," instead of a "product seller." The court explained that the Amazon platform is more like a channel for third-party sellers to sell because it is a product that third-party sellers choose to sell, not Amazon. The court further explained that in view of the sheer size of the product (more than a million products), Amazon could not check the quality of its products one by one, and that "Amazon did not intervene in sellers' selection and it did not directly affect the produce of products sold by third-party sellers" . The court compared the Amazon platform with the "newspaper classifieds ads" section, saying it was simply an efficient and simple way to connect potential customers with sellers. The court found that Amazon was not a "seller" for the purposes of Section 402A. The court said "It is clear from the plaintiffs' documents that they actually held that Amazon was responsible for releasing and promoting products for third-party sellers and was therefore is responsible." The court finally decided to dismiss the claimant's strict liability claims.