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Product liability lawsuit challenges third-party distributors

You would run out of fingers and toes before you could count every potentially dangerous product you have in your home. Some people, like parents and mechanical tradespeople, own products that could prove fatal to themselves or others if they do not work properly. When tragedies occur because of bad designs or manufacturing, one of our few recourses is to sue for financial damages.

The individuals or entities responsible for product defects have generally been easy to identify. Who was liable for the failure? Perhaps it was a manufacturer who used substandard materials. Maybe it was a designer who failed to consider the dangerous implications of an innovation.

A lawsuit with wide-ranging implications claims that it may also be the distributors who market and sell the products of third parties. A federal appeals court is considering the case of a woman who is suing the global online firm Amazon for the defect of a retractable dog leash that struck her and left her partially blind.

State courts have various product liability laws under which companies or retailers may have to pay after a similar incident. But the advent of commerce on the Internet, also called e-commerce, has led courts to consider questions like these.

"Until now, [the defendant] hasn't been exposed to potential liability claims like brick-and-mortar stores," said the attorney representing the plaintiff.

People with similar product liability claims may consider legal representation to move their cases forward. An attorney can help organize these claims by showing liability and identifying the parties responsible for the injury or damage that was done by defective items.

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