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When a recalled product sold second-hand causes injury or death

Thanks to the internet and social media, there are so many places Louisiana residents can list items they no longer need for sale. It can be a great way to earn a little side cash for the sellers, and a good way for buyers to find the products they want at a fraction of their regular retail price. The problem is, most people who post items in second-hand marketplaces do not pay attention to recall notices, so these items may cause others to suffer injury or death.

How big of a problem is this? Who is responsible if the recalled item sold second-hand causes harm to its new owner or his or her family members?

How big is the problem?

All it takes is a quick internet search to find hundreds, if not thousands, of recalled products listed for sale locally on marketplace sites. So, it is a significant problem.

An example of a popular item that has been frequently posted for sale over the past few months, despite its recall status, is the Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play Sleeper. Those individuals selling them used swear these sleepers were the best thing for their babies. The problem is, dozens of infants have died while sleeping in them due to their inclined position. People still buy them used, though, because they are unaware of their recall status. People want to believe the items they purchase, even second-hand, are safe.

Liability lies with whom?

Legally, retailers must pull recalled items from store shelves. Shouldn't second-hand sellers have to follow the same standard? What about the sites where they post these items -- do these companies hold any responsibility for allowing the sale of defective and dangerous products? As selling recalled products is against the law, liability may lie with:

  • The product manufacturer
  • Marketplace sites
  • Second-hand sellers

Lawmakers know this is a problem and are encouraging resale sites to do more to prevent the selling of recalled products through their marketplaces. When it comes to the sleeper discussed above, Fisher-Price is reaching out to these companies, as well, to have the recalled product removed from their sites -- something all companies should do. When it comes to the sellers, they need to take the time to check product recalls before they put things up for sale.

Seeking compensation

If a recalled product ended up in your home because you bought it second-hand, and that product caused your family harm and loss, you may have legal recourse. After a careful case review, if taking legal action is appropriate, you may be able to file civil claims against all parties believed responsible for your losses.

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