Recently, an appellate court issued an opinion in a Maryland product liability lawsuit against Amazon. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff purchased a headlamp from Amazon as a gift for his friends, however, tragically, the headlamp’s batteries were defective and caused the friend’s home to ignite, resulting in over $300,000 in damages. The friend’s home-insurance policy paid damages to the victim and subsequently filed a lawsuit against Amazon to collect their costs. The insurance company alleged negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty against Amazon. Amazon moved for summary judgment, arguing that they are immune from liability because they were not the seller of the headlamp. The Circuit court held that Amazon was immune under Maryland products liability law.
The appellate court held that Amazon was not liable under Maryland products liability law because they were not the “seller” of the headlamp. The purchaser bought the headlamp from Amazon’s website; however, the transaction stated “sold by Dream Light” and “Fulfilled by Amazon.” Under Maryland law, sellers and manufacturers can be liable for product liability claims under negligence, strict liability, or warranty breach theories. However, Maryland victims must be able to establish three elements to impose liability successfully.
Generally, Maryland products liability plaintiffs must show that, the product was defective, the defect is attributed to the seller, and a causal relationship exists between the injury and defect. After a plaintiff meets these requirements, they must then show that the defect existed when the product left the manufacturer, seller, middleman, distributor, or retailer. However, sellers must have received the title and ownership of the product. Entities that do not take the title of a product during distribution are not sellers, and thus, are not liable for any defects.
In this case, there was no agreement or transfer of title between Amazon and the headlamp manufacturer. Amazon held the product in their warehouse, but the manufacturer designed the product, set the price, created the product description on the website, and paid Amazon for fulfillment services. Further, Amazon’s sale agreement stated that they were only fulfilling the product to the purchaser, and the manufacturer was the actual seller. Ultimately, the court held that Amazon could be not liable for defects in the headlamp. However, it is essential to note that the court did state that although Amazon cannot be liable when they merely facilitate the transfer of a product, they can be responsible for the defective products that they own and sell.
Have You Suffered an Injury Because of a Defective Product?
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries because of a defective product, you should contact the Maryland product liability attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen. The attorneys at our law firm understand the potentially catastrophic consequences of a defective product. We can help you navigate this challenging area and ensure that the appropriate parties are held responsible for your injuries. If you are successful, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you sustained. These damages may include payments for lost wages, past medical bills, future medical costs, as well as for any pain and suffering you endured as a result of the accident. Contact our firm today at 800-654-1949 to schedule your free initial consultation.