McMillan v. Amazon.com, No. 20-20108 (5th Cir. 2021)

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Justia Opinion Summary

The Fifth Circuit certified the following question to the Supreme Court of Texas: May Amazon be held liable as a "seller" under Texas products-liability law for third-party products sold on Amazon's website and handled through Amazon's Fulfillment by Amazon program? The Supreme Court of Texas has now answered the question, holding that "potentially liable sellers are limited to those who relinquished title to the product at some point in the distribution chain." Because third-party sellers do not relinquish their title to their products, "Amazon is not a 'seller'" of those "products under Texas law." Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's conclusion that Amazon is a "seller" under Texas law with instructions to grant Amazon's motion for summary judgment in full on remand.

This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on December 18, 2020.

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Case: 20-20108 Document: 00515919359 Page: 1 Date Filed: 06/29/2021 United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit FILED June 29, 2021 Lyle W. Cayce Clerk No. 20-20108 Morgan McMillan, individually and as next friend of E.G., a minor child, Plaintiff—Appellee, versus Amazon.com, Incorporated, Defendant—Appellant. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas USDC No. 4:18-CV-2242 Before Wiener, Costa, and Willett, Circuit Judges. Don R. Willett, Circuit Judge: This interlocutory appeal presents a single, narrow question: May Amazon be held liable as a “seller” under Texas products-liability law for third-party products sold on Amazon’s website and handled through Amazon’s Fulfillment by Amazon program? We certified this question to the Supreme Court of Texas “[g]iven the dearth of on-point caselaw and the significant potential consequences of holding online marketplaces responsible for third-party sellers’ faulty products.” McMillan v. Amazon.com, Inc., 983 F.3d 194, 196 (5th Cir. 2020), certified question Case: 20-20108 Document: 00515919359 Page: 2 Date Filed: 06/29/2021 No. 20-20108 answered sub nom. Amazon.com, Inc. v. McMillan, No. 20-0979, 2021 WL 2605885 (Tex. June 25, 2021). The Supreme Court of Texas has now answered the question, holding that “potentially liable sellers are limited to those who relinquished title to the product at some point in the distribution chain.” Amazon.com, Inc. v. McMillan, No. 20-0979, 2021 WL 2605885, at *1 (Tex. June 25, 2021). Because third-party sellers do not relinquish title to their products, “Amazon is not a ‘seller’” of those “products under Texas law.” Id. Accordingly, we REVERSE the district court’s conclusion that Amazon is a “seller” under Texas law with instructions to grant Amazon’s motion for summary judgment in full on remand. 2
Primary Holding
After the Supreme Court of Texas answered the Fifth Circuit's certified questions, the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's conclusion that Amazon is a "seller" under Texas law with instructions to grant Amazon's motion for summary judgment in full on remand.

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