ou are to rely solely on the Oberdorf v Amazon.Com, Inc. trial court opinion found in your textbook, the textbook writings on ‘Products Liability’ at Section 5.20 (@ pp 276-280), AND, the attached Philadelphia Inquirer article entitled “A Dog Collar Bought on Amazon Failed, Now This Pennsylvania Woman Is Blind in One Eye. Who is liable?”BBA Redesign Rubric for LGLS 1101
WC 1 – Language
WC 2 – Grammar/
WC 3 – Style and
WC 5 – Organization
1 – Limited
Uses language (word choice,
vocabulary) that generally conveys
meaning with several errors. Jargon
used somewhat appropriately.
2 – Developing
3 – Proficient
4 – Exemplary
Uses language (word choice, vocabulary)
that mostly conveys meaning with some
errors. Jargon used appropriately
Uses language (word choice, vocabulary) that
effectively conveys meaning with few errors.
Jargon used appropriately
Uses language (word choice, vocabulary) that
skillfully and clearly conveys meaning with no
errors. Jargon used strategically and appropriately.
Occasional grammatical, spelling or
punctuation errors, but does not
distract reader or obscure meaning
Generally free or almost free of any
grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors.
Free of any and all grammatical, spelling or
Demonstrates sophisticated awareness and use of
grammar and written mechanics. Free of any and
all grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors.
Somewhat uses an appropriate,
professional style and tone for the
audience. Ability to somewhat analyze
and address the needs of the
assignment and intended audience.
Lacks a consistently organized, logical
and effective message. Main points
somewhat clear. Paragraphs
reasonably coherent with some
Generally uses an appropriate, professional
style and tone for the audience Suitable
ability to analyze and appropriately address
the needs of the assignment and intended
Mostly uses an appropriate, professional style
and tone for the audience Good ability in
analyzing and appropriately addressing the
needs of the assignment and intended audience.
Consistently uses an appropriate, professional style
and tone for the audience. Strong ability in
analyzing and effectively addressing the needs of
the assignment and intended audience.
Presents a generally organized, logical and
effective message. Main points mostly
identified. Paragraphs are generally coherent
with effective transitions.
Presents an organized, logical and effective
message. Main points clearly identified.
Paragraphs coherent with effective transitions.
Presents an organized and influential message
supported by very clearly identified main points.
Paragraphs coherent, well sequenced and
transitions display progression of thoughts/ideas.
Critical Thinking Traits
CT ID 1 Problem
Finding: Identify a
CT ID 2 Fact
and assess relevant
unknowns (ask the
of law to facts
Demonstrates either no ability or limited
Begins to demonstrate the ability to identify
ability to recognize the question before
the legal issue but does so superficially.
Accurately summarizes the issue but
some extraneous material is included
Cogently and accurately summarizes the issue
before the court
Presents information that is irrelevant or
Presents limited relevant facts necessary to
a very limited range of important facts,
resolve the issue.
or misstates facts.
Presents and integrates almost all of the facts
necessary to resolve the issue.
Accurately and completely synthesizes factual
information necessary to resolve the issue.
Misinterprets the law, at least in part, but
Interprets the rule of law correctly but EITHER
EITHER misapplies law to the facts OR does
Completely misinterprets the law and
misapplies law to the facts OR does not fully
not fully resolve the issue before the court.
proposes a resolution that is at variance
answer the question.
Reasoning skills are weak but developing .
with the rule of law.
Reasoning skill shows proficiency
Interprets the rule of law completely and accurately
and proposes a reasoned, consistent resolution of the
issue before the court.
LAW 1101: Legal Environment of Business
Due March 2nd, 2020 on Canvas Assignments
FORMAT: Include Name and Section Number; Length: 2 pages / double
spaced /12 point Font / 1 inch margins.
SOURCES: Case from text, textbook on products liability, and Philadelphia
Cite these sources when appropriate.
1. Read Oberdorf v. Amazon.Com, Inc. on pages 278-80 of your textbook.
2. Read the attached article from the Philadelphia Inquirer: “A Dog Collar Bought
on Amazon Failed, Now This Pennsylvania Woman Is Blind in One Eye. Who is
3. Number each of your Answers.
This is not a research assignment. Turnitin will flag external sources and your
grade will be adversely affected.
Answer the following three questions:
a. What was the (trial) district court’s reasoning in making its decision that
Amazon.Com Inc. was not responsible to plaintiff Oberdorf for the injuries she
suffered when the retractable leash she purchased through Amazon Marketplace
suddenly malfunctioned, snapping backwards and hitting her violently in the face.?
b. From your understanding of the Inquirer newspaper article, why did the Third
Circuit Court of Appeals reverse the district court?
c. What do you think? Should Amazon be liable? Do you agree with the district
court or the Third Circuit?
[Note: The news article states that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals will
reconsider the case en banc. This simply means the entire Third Circuit – all the
appellate judges in this Circuit — will review the case. This fact should play no role
in your analysis.]
A dog collar bought on Amazon failed, now this
Pennsylvania woman is blind in one eye. Who’s liable?
by Harold Brubaker, Updated: December 2, 2019
Photo: David Wilk
Five years ago, Heather R. Oberdorf did something millions of people do every day. She went
shopping on Amazon.com and bought a collar for her dog, Sadie, a powerful black Lab mix.
Not long after, during a short evening walk in the central Pennsylvania town of Hartleton, Sadie
lunged, and the new collar — pink with Sadie’s name on it in sparkling letters — broke. The
retractable leash flew back, hit Oberdorf’s face, and permanently blinded her left eye.
The Furry Gang, the Nevada entity that posted the collar for sale on Amazon, has disappeared.
Even a private investigator Amazon hired couldn’t track down the business owner.
With nowhere else to turn, Oberdorf sued Amazon — which says it is a services provider and not
responsible for defects in products that third parties sell on its site — in a case that has become
nationally significant as it heads toward a rare full-panel hearing early next year in the Third
Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.
The products-liability case is a prime example of judges grappling with the application of legal
standards and laws from an era before the internet enabled new forms of commerce, over which
not just Amazon but also such firms as Uber, Facebook, and Google reign supreme even as they
are reluctant to take on the traditional obligations of retailers, publishers, and employers.
For judges, it’s not a liberals-vs.-conservatives question, and it’s not a simple matter of judges
calling balls and strikes, said Matthew Stiegler, a Philadelphia lawyer who specializes in federal
appeals and writes a blog on the Third Circuit.
“Here there’s no strike zone,” Stiegler said. “Here the judges are having to take a legal
framework that was developed in another era and figure out how it ought to apply today.”
Oberdorf, 44, represented by Williamsport lawyer David Wilk, scored a victory in the Third
Circuit court last summer when a panel ruled 2-1 that “under Pennsylvania law Amazon is
strictly liable for consumer injuries caused by defective goods purchased on Amazon.com.”
“Strict liability” means that any seller in the chain of commerce — manufacturer, wholesaler,
distributor, or retailer — can be held liable for a defective product if the manufacturer is beyond
Amazon has argued in legal filings that a victory for Oberdorf “would constitute an
unprecedented expansion of products-liability law.” The Seattle company did not provide
Through Wilk, a partner at Lepley, Engelman, Yaw & Wilk, Oberdorf declined to be
During a 2017 deposition, a lawyer for Amazon asked Oberdorf whether she bought the collar
from Dogaholics, another name for the Furry Gang. “Did I purchase it from them?” Oberdorf
responded. “I purchased it on Amazon.”
The Amazon lawyer repeated his question. “I don’t know. The product was in my cart and I paid
for it as usual,” said Oberdorf, who at that time worked in production planning for a food
manufacturer in Milton, Pa. She still had Sadie and had added a second dog, a German shepherd
Heather Oberdorf, of Milton, Pa., permanently lost sight in her left eye when a dog collar, shown
here, broke, allowing the retractable leash she was using to fly back and strike her. Her lawyer
couldn’t locate the entity that posted the collar for sale on Amazon, so she sued Amazon, which
says it is not liable for defects in items posted on its web site by third-party merchants.
For Wilk and other lawyers, the exchange illustrates the consumer perception that Amazon is the
Before the favorable decision in her case, federal judges had ruled at least a half-dozen times —
in cases involving hoverboards with exploding batteries, a headlamp that caused a house fire, a
French press coffee maker that shattered, and a laptop battery that caught fire — that Amazon, in
the case of third-party merchants, was not part of the commercial chain and bore no
responsibility for defective products.
The decisions have not dealt with actual liability, but only with the question of whether Amazon
is in the chain of potential liability.
In an earlier decision upholding Amazon’s view against Oberdorf, U.S. District Judge Matthew
Brann went so far as to describe the Amazon Marketplace “as a sort of newspaper classified ad
section, connecting potential consumers with eager sellers in an efficient, modern, streamlined
Third-party sales on Amazon — effectively a store with infinite virtual space that allows any
products on its shelves, but controls the order in which they appear to consumers and runs the
checkout — skyrocketed to $160 billion last year from $100 million in 1999, the company has
said. On a percentage basis, Amazon’s third-party sales soared to 58% of merchandise sales from
Meanwhile, Amazon has increasingly come under fire for products sold on its website. A Wall
Street Journal investigation published in August found “4,152 items for sale on Amazon.com
Inc.’s site that have been declared unsafe by federal agencies, are deceptively labeled or are
banned by federal regulators — items that big-box retailers’ policies would bar from their
Amazon’s legal defenses may be starting to crumble.
The Third Circuit majority opinion by Jane R. Roth and Patty Shwartz contained zingers such as
one targeted at the dissent by Anthony J. Scirica: “We do not believe that Pennsylvania law
shields a company from strict liability simply because it adheres to a business model that fails to
prioritize consumer safety.”
Then, shortly after that ruling in favor of Oberdorf — a ruling that the court vacated when it
decided to rehear the case en banc — a judge in U.S. District Court for the Western District of
Wisconsin ruled against Amazon in a product-liability case involving a defective bathtub faucet
adapter offered by a third-party merchant and purchased by a man named Luke Cain.
“Amazon does not merely provide a marketplace where third-parties sell to Amazon customers,”
wrote Judge James D. Peterson. “Amazon was so deeply involved in the transaction with Cain
that Wisconsin law would treat Amazon as an entity that would be strictly liable for the faucet
adapter’s defects, if, as in this case, the manufacturer cannot be sued in Wisconsin.”
In August, a federal judge in New Jersey followed the Oberdorf decision and found that Amazon
could be sued for a defective scooter bought on the site. The third-party seller did not respond to
If the legal landscape for products liability changes under Amazon’s feet, it wouldn’t be the first
time tort law evolved in response to new ways of doing business.
“Since the industrial revolution tort law has responded to changes in the technology of consumer
transactions and to the nature of consumer goods. An early problem was the lengthening
distribution chain,” Edward J. Janger and Aaron D. Twerski, professors at Brooklyn Law School,
said in an email.
There was a time, for example, when a manufacturer was shielded from liability for a defective
product by the retailer. “But, as early as 1916, negligence liability was extended to include
remote manufacturers, and, with the advent of strict products liability in the 1960s, courts and
commentators broadly concluded that peculiarities of a transaction’s structure should not limit
the plaintiff’s ability to sue anyone in the distribution chain for a defective product,” Janger and
Specific to Amazon, Janger and Twerski wrote in a recent research paper: “Amazon’s contention
that it is a neutral platform that simply facilitates sales between sellers and buyers is a myth.
Amazon exercises control over each sale through a host of mechanisms that maximize profit to
itself, and determines who will buy what from whom.”
Whatever the Third Circuit judges decide after the next hearing, in February, Wilk, Oberdorf’s
lawyer, expects the loser will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case.
“I’m going to run it out to the end,” he said.
Photo: Julio Cortez AP
Legal Environment of Business: SRING 2020
Demonstration Classroom CASE BRIEF:
Oberdorf v Amazon.Com, Inc.
2017 WL 6527142 (M.D.Pa. 2017)
Trial Court’s consideration of defendant Amazon’s MOTION for SUMMARY JUDGMENT
(e.g., motion to dismiss after discovery is completed but before the actual trial)
Whether AMAZON Marketplace is a ‘seller’ within the meaning of Pennsylvania law
governing ‘defective design’ and ‘failure to warn’ product liability claims?
KEY RELEVANT FACTS:
Plaintiff Oberdorf suffered severe injuries to her eye when a retractable leash she
purchased online through defendant Amazon.Com, Inc’s Marketplace suddenly
malfunctioned, snapping backwards and hitting her violently in the face.
Amazon.Com, Inc. operates a service called Amazon Marketplace. It is utilized by more
than 1 million 3rd-party vendors.
The 3rd-party vendors decide which products they wish to sell, obtain their stock from
manufactures or upstream distributors, and determine their own price.
Amazon has no interaction with the 3rd-party vendor’s product at any time. It does,
however, use a description of the product provided by the 3rd-party vendor to create a
listing on Amazon’s website. Amazon also maintains some control over the sales process:
it serves as a conduit through which payment flows; it requires all 3rd-party vendors to
communicate with consumers through Amazon’s messaging platform only; it retains the
right to edit the content and determine the appearance of product listings. It deducts a
fee for itself when processing the purchase monies from customer to 3rd-party vendor.
Plaintiff purchased the retractable leash product online through Amazon Marketplace
from 3rd-party vendor ‘The Furry Gang.’ At the time, Amazon informed Plaintiff purchaser
that she was purchasing the product from a 3rd-party, and not from Amazon itself. After
the accident, Plaintiff was unable to make contact with The Furry Gang or the
manufacturer of the leash.
Plaintiff’s Complaint alleges 2 product liability claims: that Amazon failed to provide
adequate warnings regarding the use of the subject leash, and, the leash itself was
Abwapner CASE BRIEF
Oberdorf v Amazon.Com, Inc.
This is a case of first impression. Pennsylvania courts recognize an action where it is proven that a product
was defectively designed or manufactured, or came with an insufficient warning of its dangers.
Pennsylvania adopted Section 402A(1)(a) of the 2nd Restatement of Torts which, in relevant part, requires
that the ‘seller’ be engaged in the business of selling such product.
Persuasive precedent decided by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Musser v Vilsmeier Auction Co., Inc.
held that an auctioneer was not a ‘seller’ within the meaning of 402A(1)(a). The Musser Court noted
that the policy behind 402A was to impose responsibility for the safety of the public on one who enters
into the business of supplying human beings with products which may endanger the safety of the
consumer’s person or property because the consumer is ‘forced’ to rely on that business. That Court
concluded that this public policy would not be furthered by imposing strict liability on an auction
company which merely provided a market as the agent of the seller.
Amazon.Com Inc. was not a ‘seller’ of the retractable leash within the meaning of 402(A)(1)(a).
Amazon Marketplace served here as a newspaper classified advertisement. It had no role in the
selection of the goods to be sold and could not have any direct impact upon the manufacture
of the products sold by its 3rd-party vendors. Therefore, imposing strict liability for the alleged defective
design or alleged insufficient warning labeling on the retractable leash would not serve to advance the
‘policy’ behind 402A. Summary judgment in favor of Amazon is granted on both claims.
Abwapner CASE BRIEF
Oberdorf v Amazon.Com, Inc.
Legal Environment of Business
OBERDORF V. ~MAZON.COM, INC.
2017 W~ -65:27142 (M.D. PA. 2017)
On January 12, 2015, while walking her dog,
Heather Oberdorf suffered severe injuries to her
eye when the retractable leash she was using
suddenly malfunctioned, snapping backwards and
hitting her violently in the face.
Amazon.com is a well-known online retailer. In
addition to selling a variety of goods directly to
consumers, it also serves as a vehicle through
which third parties may independently offer
products for sale. This service, known as the
“Amazon Marketplace,” is currently utilized
by more than one million third-party vendors.
These third-party vendors decide which products
they wish to sell, obtain their stock from
manufacturers or upstream distributors, and set
Chapter Five: Business Torts
their own sales price. They provide a description
of the product to Amazon, which Amazon uses
to create a listing on its website. Consumers
browsing or searching for products on Amazon
may be directed to these listings, where they
are informed that they are purchasing from an
identified third party, and not from Amazon
itself. Unless the.third-party vendor participates
in a special “Fulfillment by Amazon” program,
Amazon has no interaction with the third-party
vendor’s product at any time.
Pennsylvania has adopted § 402A of the Second
Restatement of Torts, which states that:
Amazon does, however, maintain some control
over the Amazon Marketplace sales process. It
serves as the conduit through which payment
flows, collecting money from purchasers and
directing it to third-party vendors after deducting
a fee. It requires third-party vendors, as a
condition of utilizing the Marketplace, to agree
to conduct all communication with consumers
through its messaging platform. It retains the
right to edit the content and determine the
appearance of product listings. And it imposes
rules on how third-party vendors should handle
shipping and returns.
(b) it is expected to and does reach the user
Ms. Oberdorf purchased the retractable leash
in question on the Amazon Marketplace from
a third-party vendor identified as “The Furry
Gang.” Following the accident, Plaintiffs have
apparently been unable to make contact with
The Furry Gang or with the manufacturer of the
The Oberdorfs initiated this suit against Amazon.
Their Complaint describes the accident as a products
liability claim, in that Amazon failed to “provide
adequate warnings regarding the use of the subject
leash, causing it to be unreasonably dangerous
to the intended user at the time it left Amazon’s
possession.” and that the leash was “defectively
designed,” causing it to be unreasonably dangerous
at the time it left the possession of the defendant.
Amazon moved for summary judgment.
(1) One who sells any product in a defective con-
dition unreasonably dangerous to the user
or consumer or to his property is subject to
liability for physical harm thereby caused to
the ultimate user or consumer, or to his property if:
(a) the seller is engaged in the business of
selling such a product, and
or consumer without substantial change
in the condition in which it is sold.
(2) The rule stated in Subsection (1) appli~s
(a) the seller has exercised all possible care
in the preparation and sale of his product, and
(b) the user or consumer has not bought the
product from or entered into any contractual relation with the seller.
This provision creates a products liability regime,
whereby a plaintiff may recover against a
defendant if he can prove that a product was
defectively designed or manufactured, or came
with an insufficient warning of its dangers.
Although the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has
defined “seller” under § 402A expansively, it has
not left that category boundless. In Musser v.
Vilsmeier Auction Co., Inc., for example, it held
that an auctioneer is not a “seller” for purposes of§
402A. There, the Court first noted the policy behind
§ 402A-i.e., the “special responsibility for the
safety of the public undertaken by one who enters
into the business of supplying human beings with
products which may endanger· the safety of their
persons and property, and the forced reliance upon
that undertaking on the part of those who purchase
such goods”-and then indicated that it would not
Legal Environment of Business
impose strict liability on a defendant unless that
policy was furthered. The auction company merely
provided a market as the agent of the seller. It had
no role in the selection of the goods to be sold,
in relation to which its momentary control was
merely fortuitous and not undertaken specifically.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has not ruled
on whether an online sales listing service like
Amazon Marketplace qualifies as a “seller” under
§ 402A Like an auctioneer, Amazon is merely a
third-party vendor’s “means of marketing,” since
third-party vendors-not Amazon-“choose
the products and expose them for sale by means
of’ the Marketplace. Because of the enormous
number of third-party vendors and, presumably,
the correspondingly enormous number of goods
. sold by those vendors, Amazon is similarly “not
equipped to pass upon the quality of the myriad
of products” available on its Marketplace. And
because Amazon has “no role in the selection
of the goods to be sold,” it also cannot have
any “direct impact upon the manufacture of the
products” sold by the third-party vendors.
The Amazon Marketplace serves as a sort of newspaper classified ad section, connecting potential
consumers with eager sellers in an efficient, modem, streamlined manner. Because subjecting it to
strict liability would not further the purposes of §
402A, it cannot be liable to the Oberdorfs under
a products liability theory. Therefore, summary
judgment will be granted in favor of Amazon on
Counts I and II of the Oberdorfs’ Complaint.
Purchase answer to see full
Why Choose Us
- 100% non-plagiarized Papers
- 24/7 /365 Service Available
- Affordable Prices
- Any Paper, Urgency, and Subject
- Will complete your papers in 6 hours
- On-time Delivery
- Money-back and Privacy guarantees
- Unlimited Amendments upon request
- Satisfaction guarantee
How it Works
- Click on the “Place Order” tab at the top menu or “Order Now” icon at the bottom and a new page will appear with an order form to be filled.
- Fill in your paper’s requirements in the "PAPER DETAILS" section.
- Fill in your paper’s academic level, deadline, and the required number of pages from the drop-down menus.
- Click “CREATE ACCOUNT & SIGN IN” to enter your registration details and get an account with us for record-keeping and then, click on “PROCEED TO CHECKOUT” at the bottom of the page.
- From there, the payment sections will show, follow the guided payment process and your order will be available for our writing team to work on it.