Amazon Can Be Sued For Not Warning Customers Of Toxic Materials, Court Rules

( The California Supreme Court upheld a rule that permits customers to sue for failing to notify buyers that some of the items it sells may contain harmful compounds such as mercury.

Reports show that the court refused Amazon’s attorneys’ request to reconsider a lower court finding that found Amazon violated Proposition 65. The proposition compels businesses to warn customers about items they create or sell that include chemicals known to cause cancer and reproductive damage or birth defects.

The case involves a complaint filed in Alameda County alleging that the online retail giant intentionally marketed skin-lightening treatments on its website for years while knowing about hazardous mercury levels in such creams.

Mercury is toxic to pregnant mothers and their fetuses. According to the lawsuit, some of the items manufactured by third parties but offered on Amazon contained mercury levels thousands of times higher than the federal legal limit in the United States.

According to reports, Amazon did not respond immediately to the Supreme Court’s decision, which permits the prior court finding to be cited as precedent in state courts.

California has such a vast market share that whatever efforts Amazon takes to comply with Proposition 65 may have a far broader impact on customers, according to Rachel Doughty, a plaintiff’s attorney.

Amazon would have to remove products containing carcinogens or reproductive poisons from its site. Or Amazon may need to ensure a warning is issued so consumers can take precautions to prevent exposure to such chemicals, Doughty stated.

Reports show that in 2019,  Amazon was shielded by a portion of the federal Communications Decency Act that shields websites from responsibility for information posted by third parties.

However, in March, a state appeals court ruled that Amazon is more than just a site for businesses to showcase their available products.  Amazon also stores, sells, and ships merchandise.  The court stated that a pharmacy selling identical creams would be obliged to post Proposition 65 warnings.

Meanwhile, two antitrust laws are stalled in the Senate, keeping the hammer from falling on companies like Apple, Google, Meta, and Amazon. According to reports,  New York Senator Chuck Schumer’s daughter, Jessica, is an Amazon-registered lobbyist. His other daughter, Allison, manages product marketing at Meta. That seems like a conflict of interest for Schumer.