E-commerce providers such as Amazon, eBay and Walmart.com must be relieved on the court’s recent ruling in Fox v. Amazon.com.
The plaintiffs alleged that Amazon should be held liable for a battery defect of a hoverboard that caught on fire in 2015 while the battery was being recharged. They argued that Amazon exercised complete control over the sale making it a “seller” under the Tennessee Products Liability Act of 1978.
However, Amazon, pointed out it was not responsible for manufacturing, distributing, setting the price, design or developing any information on the product. Therefore, Amazon argued against “seller” status for the product. Sellers include retailers and wholesalers or distributors. But a “seller” must be the one that markets a commodity/product, based on the Tennessee Product Liability Act of 1978.
The courts agreed with Amazon and granted summary judgment for Amazon. The district court found that Amazon was simply the facilitator between the entity seeking to sell the product and the person wanting to buy the product.
This is good news for e-commerce providers. But it is important to note that this case was based on Tennessee law. The same case in a different state may have had a different outcome. Product Liability laws remain state laws, except for life-saving medical equipment. These law can vary greatly from one state to another.
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