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E-Commerce Negligence Claims Against Amazon: Understanding Liability

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E-Commerce Negligence Claims Against Amazon: Understanding Liability

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E-Commerce Negligence Claims Against Amazon: Understanding Liability

Brubaker Injury Law

January 26, 2024


As the e-commerce giant, Amazon faces legal challenges related to product liability and negligence. When defective products cause harm, questions arise about Amazon’s responsibility. In this article, we explore negligence claims against Amazon and the implications for consumers and sellers.

The McCarthy v. Amazon Case

One notable case is MCCARTHY v. AMAZON COM INC in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. The lawsuit involves the tragic deaths of two teenagers, Ethan McCarthy and Kristine Jónsson, who intentionally ingested sodium nitrite purchased from a third-party seller on Amazon’s website.

Key Points from the Case:

  • Sodium Nitrite: A third-party seller, Loudwolf, offered sodium nitrite (a reagent chemical) on Amazon.com. The product was labeled as suitable for various applications, including experimental and analytical use.
  • Purity Level: The sodium nitrite sold was 99.6% pure, rendering it highly toxic. Plaintiffs allege that one gulp of this substance is enough to kill an individual.
  • Negligence Claims: Plaintiffs argue that Amazon’s negligence contributed to the deaths. They claim that Amazon failed to prevent the sale of hazardous chemicals and concealed information about the product’s risks.

Amazon’s Liability and Response

  • Third-Party Sellers: Amazon’s Marketplace hosts third-party sellers. While Amazon doesn’t directly manufacture or sell these products, it provides the platform for their distribution.
  • Product Listings: Amazon’s responsibility lies in ensuring accurate product listings, safety, and compliance with regulations.
  • Pay-to-Avoid-Lawsuits Approach: In some cases, Amazon pays customers directly for claims under $1,000 resulting from defective products. This move aims to avoid lawsuits and protect consumers.

Pursuing Negligence Claims

Product Liability: Plaintiffs can pursue negligence claims against Amazon based on:

  • Failure to exercise reasonable care: Did Amazon adequately vet third-party sellers and their products?
  • Intentional concealment: Did Amazon withhold critical information about the product’s dangers?

Reviewing Product Listings: Subrogating carriers can analyze Amazon’s product listings and customer reviews to assess negligence claims3.


As Amazon continues to shape the e-commerce landscape, its legal responsibilities remain under scrutiny. Consumers, sellers, and the courts grapple with defining Amazon’s liability in an evolving digital marketplace.


Disclaimer: This article provides general information and does not constitute legal advice. Consult a qualified attorney for personalized guidance.


At Brubaker Injury Law, we’re here to help you navigate the complexities of your personal injury case. If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in an accident, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here for you.

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