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California Appeals Court Sells Amazon Down the River Over Product Liability Claims

Online shopping has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few decades. It has brought product liability issues to the forefront as trends shift and consumers complete an increasing number of transactions from online retailers. Most recently, the California Courts of Appeal have ruled that Amazon, and by extension, other online retailers, can in fact, be held liable for product liability claims stemming from products they make available through their website.

The appellate ruling in Bolger v. Amazon has the potential to enhance the protections available to consumers across the country dramatically. At issue was a defective battery offered by a third-party seller on Amazon's platform. This battery injured Angela Bolger and caused significant burn injuries and scarring.

As with most products available on Amazon, the products are produced and sold not by Amazon but by third-party retail operators who use the site to complete the transaction and handle the shipping and distribution to the client. Amazon's attorneys had argued that the company was not liable because it did not produce, manufacture, market, or sell the product. However, the court ruled that the business model adopted by Amazon meant that it was, in fact, integral to the production and marketing of the product, thus satisfying the requirements to be found strictly liable for any products sold via the company's website.

It is unclear whether the California Supreme Court or other courts will affirm the decision. However, the decision does show that the courts are willing to accept more open views when applying the old logic and reasoning of product liability precedents to the realities of 21st century commerce. For consumers, it means that there are likely to be further product liability protections they can count on to make their online purchases just a little bit safer. For Amazon, eBay, and other online retailers, it means that the days of making money without any risk of liability from consumers injured by products sold online are coming to an end.

For more information about Texas's product liability laws, contact Welmaker Injury Law at (210) 828-6033. It is our pleasure to answer your questions and tell you more about the strategies we use to pursue compensation for our clients in San Antonio and surrounding communities.