A federal judge in Illinois ruled in March 2021 that the homeowners’ insurance company for two married homeowners could not hold Amazon liable when a hoverboard they purchased through Amazon caught fire and set their house ablaze. The hoverboard caught fire while the daughters of the homeowners were playing with it. The insurance company, Great Northern, paid $3,830,588 to repair the home. The insurance company then filed a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the defective hoverboard, Paradise (a seller of the product), and Amazon.
United States District Judge Gary Feinerman ruled that Amazon could not be held liable for the fire damages because it “never handled or took possession of the hoverboard,” which means Amazon can’t be considered a “seller.” He based his reasoning on rulings from the Illinois Supreme Court that the seller is a precise term that depends on “control of the product,” and not the purchasing method. He reasoned that the manufacturer (Shenzhen Double King Technology Co. Ltd.) and the seller (Paradise 00) shipped the product directly to the homeowners. Amazon, he stated, never controlled the hoverboard product.
The federal judge also reasoned that the homeowners’ insurance company, Great Northern, forfeited any right to argue that Illinois law may hold a company liable even if the company is “outside the chain of distribution.” This is because the insurance company failed to argue the Illinois cases, and instead relied on a California appellate court decision which ruled against Amazon in a similar case.
- The insurance company claimed Amazon was aware that the hoverboards could catch fire.
- Amazon, in turn, claimed it could not be liable for product liability claims (or misrepresentations about products) when third-party sellers only use Amazon’s platform to facilitate the purchase.
- Great Northern then claimed that Amazon does give customers refunds for products when the customer isn’t satisfied.
In addition to disqualifying the product liability claim, the federal judge disqualified the insurance company’s misrepresentation claim, stating that Amazon did not make the false statements and the homeowners did not rely on the false statements when making their purchase. Presiding Judge Feinerman ruled that Great Northern may proceed with their claim against Paradise and Shenzhen, but may not take further action against Amazon.
At Warren & Kallianos, PLLC, our premier Charlotte, NC product liability lawyers work aggressively to hold manufacturers, distributors, and sellers liable for the harm and deaths they cause. We work with product safety professionals to help verify when products are defective. Schedule an appointment by calling us at our Charlotte, North Carolina office at 704-377-7777, or by filling our contact form.