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Bloomberg Law reports that the US District Court in Arizona has ruled that Amazon is not responsible - at least in one specific case - for problems with products that are sold by third party vendors on its Marketplace site.

The case concerned two hoverboards made by a company called Super Engine and sold on Amazon; the person who bought them then sold the boards to someone else, and when that person was charging the hoverboards, they caught fire and caused some significant home damage.

The insurance company in the case sued Amazon, saying that it was responsible under Arizona law.

However, the judge in the case ruled that "Amazon didn’t participate significantly in the stream of commerce that delivered the hoverboards to the consumer … Despite bearing some responsibility for third-party vendors’ products during transit, Amazon provides no warranty for them, doesn’t have a meaningful ability to inspect them for defects, doesn’t take title to them, derives only slight economic benefit from transactions involving them, exerts only indirect pressure on product design or manufacturing processes, and doesn’t foster significant consumer reliance by facilitating the transactions."
KC's View:
Seems pretty cut and dried to me. And, upon reflection, fair.

But … I do think that Amazon (and other retailers) should not be complacent about this. It is critical, I believe, for retailers to take on even more responsibility than the courts would insist on, since that may be what their customers expect. In the end, customers are more more important than the courts when it comes to such things. Retailers need to be sure, as best they can, that the products they sell are what they say they are, made of the ingredients listed on the label, and made where the label says they were made.