Texas Supreme Court Says Amazon Not Liable for Third-Party’s Product

In a 5-2 decision, the Texas Supreme Court held that Amazon cannot be held liable under Texas law for injuries caused by a third-party seller’s product.  In that case, a toddler suffered esophageal burns after swallowing a remote-control battery. The toddler’s mother sued Amazon, alleging a knockoff Apple TV remote sold by a Chinese third-party seller was defective and allowed the battery to pop out. The remote was sold through Amazon’s Fulfillment by Amazon service. U.S. District Court Judge Vanessa Gilmore of the Southern District of Texas originally granted summary judgment against Amazon, finding it liable because it had placed the product into the stream of commerce.  Amazon appealed the ruling to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which certified the question as to whether Amazon was liable under Texas law to the Texas Supreme Court. In its ruling, the Texas Supreme Court held that the Texas Products Liability Act’s definition of “seller” does not extend to Amazon in the context of third parties.  As defined by Section 82.001(3) of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, a seller is a “person who is engaged in the business of distributing or otherwise placing, for any commercial purpose, in the stream of commerce for use or consumption a product or any component part thereof.” The Court concluded that when a product-related injury arises from a transaction involving a sale, sellers are those who have relinquished title to the allegedly defective product at some point.”