Oberdorf v. Amazon.com Inc.

Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

930 F.3d 136 (3d Cir. 2019)

In some jurisdictions, online marketplace providers are strictly liable for the selling of defective products if the provider: (1) may reject vendors, (2) requires vendors to indemnify it, and (3) enables the vendors to avoid liability.

Relevant Facts

Oberdorf (the plaintiff) purchased a dog collar on Amazon.com Inc.’s (the defendant’s) online marketplace. The dog collar was shipped to the plaintiff by a third-party vendor. The plaintiff placed the collar on her dog and clipped a retractable leash to the ring of the collar. However, when the dog lunged forward, the ring on the collar broke, causing the leash to snap backwards and hit the plaintiff’s glasses, blinding the plaintiff in one eye. The plaintiff sued the defendant for negligence and strict liability. Neither party could locate the third party vendor. The defendant requires vendors to indemnify it and provide product warnings, and the defendant retains the right to reject vendors, but the defendant’s customers cannot communicate directly with the vendors.

The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendant, finding that (1) it did not qualify as a seller under Pennsylvania products-liability law and (2) that the Communications Decency Act (CDA), which precludes liability for publishing third-party content online, barred the plaintiff’s claims. The plaintiff appealed.

Issue

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Holding & Reasoning

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Concurrence

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Dissent

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Last updated:

February 16, 2021

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Procedural History

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Citations

930 F.3d 136 (3d Cir. 2019)