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Court says Amazon may be subject to product liability claims

Ordering products online is a part of modern life for many people here in Oklahoma and around the country. If an online retailer sells a defective product to a consumer who is subsequently injured by that product, who is liable in that scenario? In the past, one of the biggest online retailers, Amazon, has successfully argued that it should not be subject to product liability claims relating to products sold by third-party merchants on Amazon’s website. However, a recent appellate court ruling may change all of that.

The court found Amazon should be held liable in a case involving a defective laptop battery. A woman who purchased the laptop was injured when the battery exploded while she had the computer on her lap. Amazon argued that it was not at fault since the battery came from an overseas company. Yet, representatives of the injured woman said that the battery was stored for a period of time in an Amazon warehouse, thereby making the company liable. Ordinarily, when a person purchases a product in a “big box” store that may not have actually manufactured the product, that store may be liable if the product is defective.

Amazon has supported consumer-related legislation that would increase the liability of all online retailers. Other retailers, many of them Amazon’s competitors, have pushed back, saying that the structure of their companies are different from Amazon. Critics of Amazon’s refusal to accept liability are optimistic that this court ruling will help protect more consumers in the future.

Hopefully, this court decision will do just that, as more and more people continue to shop online. Consumers should feel confident that if they are hurt by a defective product, they have the means to pursue legal recourse against any entity responsible. Families in Oklahoma who have questions about filing a product liability claim have every right to consult an experienced personal injury attorney who can explain the available options.