Hoverboard Suit Goes Up In Flames

Also contributed by William Schoof*

Should an e-commerce firm be held liable for the defects of every item it sells on its global internet marketplace?  In Fox v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. 3:16-cv-03013, 2018 BL 191355 (M.D. Tenn. May 30, 2018), plaintiffs argued exactly that, and the district court answered with a resounding “no”.

The popularity of self-balancing scooters, commonly known as hoverboards, exploded in late 2015, slowing only when the hoverboards, themselves, started exploding due to an alleged battery defect.  Plaintiffs in Fox allegedly bought a hoverboard from a retailer on the Amazon.com marketplace and, after the hoverboard’s battery caught fire, they obtained a default judgement against that retailer.

Perhaps looking for deeper pockets, plaintiffs sought to hold Amazon liable for the product’s alleged defect, too.  But Amazon did not design or manufacture the product.  It did not produce or develop any info

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