Congress Demands Answers from Amazon About Defective Products

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Forbes reported on August 30, 2019, that multiple members of the United States Congress had sent letters to the technology giant Amazon after a Wall Street Journal investigation found that Amazon’s inability or unwillingness to police third-party sellers had led to 4,152 products being sold on Amazon despite being deceptively labeled, deemed unsafe by federal regulators, or outright banned.

Seeking Answers from Amazon

United States Representative Grace Meng, a Democrat from New York, wrote a letter to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos in which she noted that the 4,152 unsafe items included no less than 2,000 toys and medications without warnings about health risks to kids. Meng asked Bezos if Amazon would cease selling products on the Amazon Marketplace that have been recalled by their manufacturers for safety concerns. Senator Meng also asked about the timeline and process for ensuring that these products will be removed from the Marketplace, how more transparency would be created to help customers understand which products are sold by third-party companies, and how monitoring of products being listed falsely as FDA compliant would be implemented.

In another letter to Bezos, Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, and Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, called attention to a 23-year-old motorcyclist who was killed after a motorcycle helmet he bought on Amazon came off during a crash. The helmet had been labeled as certified by the United States Department of Transportation although it was not compliant and had actually been recalled.

In their letter, the senators asked Bezos why the company’s current safety efforts have failed to prevent the sale of mislabeled, recalled, or other unsafe products, how the company would ensure that it does not sell any recalled products or products deemed unsafe by federal agencies, and how the company would identify hazardous products in the future.

The senators also asked Bezos how the company can ensure that warning labels are accurate. They were particularly concerned about making sure that all products meet minimum safety requirements and don’t violate existing laws (such as lead limits in children’s products). Finally, they asked what assurances Bezos could give regarding the protection of the consumer as new safety standards are developed.

Meng’s letter did not stipulate a response date, but the letter from the senators asked Bezos to provide answers by September 29, 2019. The senators further noted that it is illegal to sell recalled products under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 with violations being up to $15 million, and the number of defective products shipped from Amazon warehouses and being labeled as “Amazon’s Choice” was a “seeming endorsement of the products.”

What You Should Do If You Are Injured by a Defective Product from Amazon

If you have been injured or have become ill due to a defective product, you need to take immediate steps to preserve your rights. Your first action after any accident involving a defective product should always be to seek medical attention. You should also store the item somewhere safe where it cannot be accessed or used by another person.

Keep all of the original packaging that came with the item and keep all records of your purchase. While Amazon would seemingly have a significant role in many of these defective product purchases, the company will likely seek to avoid liability by placing the blame on the individual merchant.

As CNBC reported in October 2018, a judge in Tennessee refused to hold Amazon liable for a hoverboard that exploded, caught fire, and ultimately burned down a family’s home. The plaintiff, in that case, claimed that the product did not contain any warnings about these dangers.

Product liability claims are usually based on allegations of design defects, manufacturing defects, or failure to warn. As CNBC pointed out, the challenge with many Amazon defective product cases can be tracking down the actual third-party sellers on Amazon, many of whom are located in China or other places overseas.

Contact a New York Defective Product Lawyer

If a defective or dangerous product that you purchased on Amazon injured you, contact an experienced injury attorney as soon as possible. Finz & Finz, P.C., is a New York-based law firm that serves clients nationwide, and we’re ready to stand up for you.

Our firm has extensive experience helping clients who’ve been hurt by defective products. Our record of success includes several multimillion-dollar settlements and verdicts. You can have us review your case when you call (855) TOP-FIRM or reach out to us online to schedule a free consultation.