The Heavy Hand of Amazon: A Seller Not a Neutral Platform
Brooklyn Journal of Corporate Financial & Commercial Law, Spring 2020, Forthcoming
18 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2019 Last revised: 14 Nov 2019
Date Written: October 9, 2019
Since the adoption of Section 402A of the Second Restatement of Torts, every party in a product’s distribution chain has been potentially liable for injuries caused by product defects. Consumers who buy from reputable sellers are almost always guaranteed that they will have a solvent defendant if injured by a product defect. Amazon, though responsible for a vast number of retail sales, has sought to avoid liability by claiming that it is not a seller but a neutral platform that merely facilitates third-party sales to consumers. With the exception of one court most courts have sided with Amazon and left injured consumers without a remedy against insolvent third-party sellers. All of the decided cases have failed to examine the nuances and complexity of how Amazon does business. This essay puts the lie to Amazon’s claim that it is not a seller by demonstrating how Amazon controls third-party sales and hides its true role from consumers.
Keywords: Amazon, products liability, third-party sellers
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