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The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Your trusted legal advisors since 1976

Amazon Wins Lawsuit After Teen OD’d on Caffeine Powder


Amazon has recently been in the news for losing several high-profile lawsuits regarding products they make available on their website. This is not one of those cases. Amazon won a major decision over a family that filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company after 18-year-old Logan Stiner died because of a caffeine overdose.

Hard Rhino Pure Caffeine Powder is a “pre-workout dietary supplement” manufactured in China and made available on Amazon’s marketplace. Stiner procured the caffeine powder from a friend who had purchased it on Amazon. Amazon was one of the companies that were named in the parents’ lawsuit.

This Decision Contradicts Other Decisions 

Right now, the legal framework for dealing with a company like Amazon is not entirely clear. Is Amazon a retailer like Walmart or Costco? Is Amazon more like a flea market? Who is liable when Amazon allows a defective product to enter the stream of commerce?

In at least some cases, the court has decided that Amazon cannot delegate liability to their vendors and have a responsibility to ensure their products are safe. However, this decision appears to openly contradict other decisions.

So, what happens now? At this point, there are two conflicting approaches to dealing with Amazon in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Ohio says that Amazon should not be liable while Pennsylvania says they should be. A case like this, when there are two conflicting decisions, has only one place left to go: The US Supreme Court. Another possibility is that the state legislature decides to impose liability on Amazon.

The Lawsuit Can Still Move Forward 

A second company called Tenkoris is responsible for marketing and distributing the caffeine powder in the US. They are named in the lawsuit and a lawsuit against them will be allowed to move forward. On the other hand, suing a behemoth company like Amazon tends to be far more lucrative than suing a relatively minor distributor like Teknoris. And the family is likely disappointed that the court refused to hold Amazon responsible for placing the dangerous caffeine powder into the stream of commerce.

Other lawsuits against Amazon in which they had been held liable included defective hoverboards that caught fire sporadically. After someone was injured by the hoverboard, they successfully filed a lawsuit against Amazon for placing a defective product (which they knew was defective from several scathing reviews) into the stream of commerce.

Retailer or Flea Market? 

These are the two types of companies that may have liability. A flea market does not take on the liability of its vendors and neither would a mall. However, a retailer contracts with several vendors to make their products available, and they generally can be held liable if there is some form of direct negligence. For instance, if a retailer continues to sell a product that is recalled or is otherwise dangerous to their customers, they can be sued. Thus, retailers are often named as defendants alongside the companies who manufacture their products as well.

Talk to a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer 

If you’ve been injured by a defective or dangerous product, call the Tampa personal injury attorneys at The Matassini Law Firm to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.

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