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Safety Issues With Amazon Products

Posted by Stacey L. Pietrowicz

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Stacey brings meticulous attention to detail to every type of case, with consistently outstanding results. Although the youngest partner at SUGARMAN, Stacey routinely handles some of the firm's most sophisticated cases and has been recognized in Massachusetts Super Lawyers every year since 2013. Meet Stacey

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Amazon Prime provides a vast selection of products that can be delivered in just a few hours. This convenience comes with a price – your safety.  

A Wall Street Journal investigation found 4,152 unsafe, improperly labeled, and government-banned products listed on Amazon. These products were pulled out of retail stores but continued to be available on Amazon. Many are even promoted with the “Amazon’s Choice” banner. The violations included:  

116 products falsely listed as “FDA-approved.” This included four toys (the FDA doesn’t approve toys) and 98 unapproved eyelash-growth serums.  

43 listings for oral benzocaine, a pain reliever, without FDA warning labels.  

80 listings for infant sleeping wedges. The FDA has warned that these can cause suffocation, and Amazon said it banned them.  

52 listings for supplements containing illegally imported prescription drugs.  

1,412 electronics listings falsely claiming to be UL certified.  

The Journal compared 3,644 toys on Amazon with the same toys on Target.com for federally required choking-hazard warnings. They found that 64% of the Amazon listings lacked the warnings found on the Target listings.  

In addition to the 4,152 items, 4,510 balloons listed on Amazon lacked required choking-hazard warnings.  

The Journal also conducted a safety test of 10 “Amazon’s Choice” children’s products. Four items failed federal safety standards.  

After the Wall Street Journal submitted their list of unsafe products to Amazon, 2,366 listings were removed or reworded. About two weeks later, about 130 of these removed items were back on Amazon’s website by the same vendors. Amazon policies require all their products to comply with safety regulations; however, they have been unable to regulate third-party sellers’ compliance.
 

INJURED BY AN AMAZON PRODUCT  

As of June 2019, there were an estimated 105 million U.S. Amazon Prime subscribers. Amazon has avoided liability for injuries caused by products sold on its site. This is because Amazon is is not a seller. It claims to be only an online platform for transactions. Liability for defective products or goods falls on the seller. In the past year, Courts have been holding Amazon more liable:  

July 3, 2019: The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled against Amazon.com Inc. The case involves an Amazon customer who purchased a retractable dog leash from Furry Gang in Nevada. The leash snapped, recoiled, and hit her face blinding her in her left eye.  This case could allow lawsuits against Amazon from customers who buy defective products from third-party sellers. Circuit Judge Jane Richards Roth said Amazon’s business model “enables third-party vendors to conceal themselves from the customer, leaving customers injured by defective products with no direct recourse to the third-party vendor.” The decision is pending review.  

July 9, 2019: The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that Amazon had a duty to warn its customer of the safety hazards of hover boards sold on its website. The case involved a hover board purchased on Amazon that caught on fire. It destroyed the family’s home and forced two children to jump from the second floor to escape the fire. Before the incident, Amazon sent an email to its customer about safety concerns with the product but did not mention specifics.  

August 21, 2019: The Ohio Supreme Court accepted to hear the case of Dennis Stineer, who filed a wrongful death claim against Amazon for the death of his son. His son had ingested caffeine powder purchased on Amazon from an Arizona seller. The cause of death was determined to be acute caffeine toxicity which caused cardiac arrhythmia and seizure. In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration had banned the sale of pure caffeine.    

SUGARMAN CAN HELP

SUGARMAN has extensive experience handling personal injury claims resulting from defective products and consumer goods. Read more about our experience. For assistance with injuries involving consumer products, contact us. Call us at 617-542-1000, email info@sugarman.com, or fill out a Contact Form.