A second federal court has ruled Amazon can be sued under New Jersey law for faulty items sold by third parties through its website after a fire that caused huge damage to a home in the state.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Julien Neals in Newark on Wednesday, June 29, authorizes a lawsuit accusing the firm of selling a faulty self-balancing scooter, or hoverboard, that malfunctioned and caused the fire.
New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group filed the complaint in 2016 on behalf of an insured homeowner, Angela Sigismondi, alleging claims under the New Jersey Product Liability Act (NJPLA) as well as common law breach of contract and negligence.
A ForTech Smart Scooter made by Shenzhen, China-based Paradise 00 which was sold on Amazon caught fire while charging in Sigismondi’s house.
The blaze caused more than $350,000 in damage.
Crawford Law’s Dennis Crawford expressed “great pleasure” at the verdict.
Amazon’s lawyers did not immediately reply to calls for comment.
Amazon tried to argue it was not the product’s seller, citing language in the NJPLA that states a firm is accountable if it has “substantial influence” over a product.
Amazon claimed it lacked such control over third-party products.
Similar arguments were successfully advanced by the firm against litigation in numerous jurisdictions, including Maryland, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas, where it gained dismissal in federal or state appellate courts.
However, courts in California, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey have permitted such claims to proceed, and they are still ongoing.
Another New Jersey district judge, Kevin McNulty, arrived at the same conclusion in 2019 in a diverse case over a hoverboard.
He quoted a ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals finding that Amazon could be accountable for an injury caused by a defective dog leash under a similar Pennsylvania law.