The law is not written in stone; it changes itself to suit the needs of the people it governs. That is a truth across all law, especially in personal injury. Attorneys who keep up to date with changes across the country, as they happen, offer certain advantages to their clients.
That’s why it matters that we pay attention to a recent decision out of California. The appeals court there found Amazon liable for injuries caused by defective laptop batteries sold on their website. While nationally reported rulings may not affect any case in Connecticut today, it may be a sign of things to come. Especially in this case, when the ruling represents a radical shift in liability for 3rd-party sellers and facilitators.
What is “3rd-party seller liability?”
Amazon does not produce many of the goods found on its website. Instead, it is an immense platform where others may sell goods, and they receive payment as a middleman. As the tech giant does not directly produce the goods they sell, they don’t necessarily have any responsibility for the goods’ quality or safety.
The facts of the case clearly outline how integral Amazon’s storage, packaging and infrastructure were to the 3rd-party seller, Lenoge. Without Amazon, the batteries would not have reached consumers. As the ruling states: “Whatever term we use to describe Amazon’s role, be it ‘retailer,’ ‘distributor’ or merely ‘facilitator,’ it was pivotal in bringing the product here to the consumer.”
Will it make an impact on Connecticut?
In California, this ruling may have an immediate effect, although it would be safe to assume the company will continue to appeal the decision. Across the country, however, there is much less clarity. Unless this, or a case like it, goes to the US Supreme Court, each state may come to a slightly different ruling.
However, understanding the environment of a ruling like this allows an attorney to plan ahead. Understanding the tactics and arguments successful in one case, allows an attorney to refine and better the work for their clients. Because when the law changes, the most effective attorneys are already prepared to change with it.