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Amazon Held Strictly Liable as a Seller

By Jeremy K. Robinson, CaseyGerry – The Los Angeles Daily Journal

On July 3, 2019, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals shook the world of online commerce. In Oberdorf v., Inc. – F.3d – Case No. 18-1041, the court held in a two to one opinion that was strictly liable as a “seller” of an injury-causing dog collar listed by a third party on its website. This is the first published holding of its kind in the country. Before Oberdorf, every court that had considered the question found Amazon was not a seller for product liability purposes.

The significance of Oberdorf is hard to overstate. Amazon may characterize it as an outlier, but there is no question it is a tipping point.

To fully appreciate the gravity of this decision, it is important to have some understanding of both Amazon’s marketplace and the pre-Oberdorf legal landscape.

Amazon’s marketplace allows both Amazon and third parties to list products for sale on Many people may not realize this, but often a product listing will have a small notation saying, “sold by” followed by a name chosen by the third-party vendor. Amazon allows vendors to use fictitious names, meaning the ersatz vendor named in the “sold by” line may be untraceable. For example, in Oberdorf, the product was “sold by” The Furry Gang. But no such entity exists and no one in Oberdorf could locate The Furry Gang or its representatives – not even Amazon.

Read the full article here. (Source: The Daily Journal)

Jeremy K. Robinson is a partner with San Diego-based Casey Gerry Schenk Francavilla Blatt & Penfield, LLP, and chair of the firm’s Motion and Appellate Practice.