Monday, January 29, 2018 Found Not to Be A "Seller" for Purposes of Pennsylvania Strict Liability Claim (UPDATE: Reversed on Appeal)

In the case of Oberdorf v., Inc., No. 4: 16-CV-01127 (M.D. Pa. Dec. 21, 2017 Brann, J.) Judge Matthew W. Brann of the Middle District Federal Court of Pennsylvania granted summary judgment in favor of the Defendant after finding that an online marketer, such as, is not liable for defects in products purchased through its website from third party vendors.  

The case arose out of an incident during which the Plaintiff was injured when a retractable leash she was using while walking her dog allegedly malfunction, snapped back, and caused permanent injury to the Plaintiff's eye.

The court generally noted that the online marketer is not a seller of third-party products as required by §402A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts.  

Rather, the court found that the website was a merely a means of marketing products by a third party seller who chose what products to market and how.   The court noted that, due to the enormous number of third party sellers and their products, the Defendant,, was not in a position to pass upon the quality of the innumerable products available on its website.  

Rather, the Amazon Marketplace was deemed by the court as a sort of newspaper classified ad section that puts potential consumers in touch with sellers.

As such, given that the court found that is not a seller in the context of Section 402A, the Plaintiff's strict liability claims asserted against this online marketer were dismissed.

Judge Brann's Opinion in Oberdorf can be viewed at this LINK.  The Court's accompanying Order can be viewed HERE.

I send thanks to Attorney James M. Beck of the Philadelphia law office of Reed Smith for bringing this case to my attention. 

UPDATE:  On July 3, 2019, the Third Circuit Court of Appeal reversed this decision in an Opinion issued under docket No. 18-1041.  Type "Oberdorf" into the Search Box to access the Tort Talk blog post on that decision along with a Link to the Third Circuit's Opinion.

UPDATE:  According to a September 23, 2020 article in the Pennsylvania Law Weekly, this case was settled and, therefore, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would not be addressing the question presented.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.