Amazon.com, Inc. is the defendant in a proposed class action lawsuit filed by two South Carolina consumers who allege the company sold dangerously defective glasses for the August 21st solar eclipse. The 32-page lawsuit alleges violations of South Carolina consumer protection and product liability laws, and seeks damages from Amazon for selling and failing to disclose the dangers of an allegedly unsafe product.
What are the allegations?
The plaintiffs argue Amazon knew or should have known the eclipse glasses were defective and not fit for their intended use, i.e. staring directly into the sun during the eclipse. To back this point, the lawsuit claims Amazon, citing “an abundance of caution” in an email sent to purchasers two days before the event, attempted to recall the glasses while offering a refund to customers. Despite the hasty message, Amazon reportedly failed to expand upon the “scale of the recall or a public list of offending vendors,” the complaint says.
According to a PBS report cited in the complaint, Amazon told consumers in its recall email that:
“Viewing the sun or an eclipse using any other glasses or filters could result in loss of vision or permanent blindness. Amazon has not received confirmation from the supplier of your order that they sourced the item from a recommended manufacturer. We recommend that you DO NOT use this product to view the sun or the eclipse.”
“Pain and Discomfort, Headaches, Eye Watering”
The case notes the plaintiffs in early August bought a three-pack of eclipse glasses from Amazon. After viewing the total solar eclipse, which the lawsuit says the couple never viewed at any point without wearing the eclipse glasses, both plaintiffs allegedly began to experience “pain and discomfort, headaches, eye watering and other symptoms.” Thereafter, the complaint continues, the plaintiffs started seeing dark spots in their lines of vision, and allegedly experienced overall vision impairment, blurriness, “a central blind spot,” increased sensitivity, distorted vision, and changes in color perception.
“Too Little, Too Late”
The lawsuit maintains that Amazon’s August 19th recall email was a tragically insufficient warning to customers not to use their solar eclipse glasses, as the product allegedly did not meet ISO eye protection standards. Worse, many customers never even received Amazon’s recall email before the eclipse, the case claims. From the lawsuit:
"Upon information and belief, many Eclipse Glasses sold by Amazon were sold in packs of three and 20, and distributed to individuals who never received a warning email. Notwithstanding Amazon's woefully inadequate email notification, any and all users of Eclipse Glasses were subjected to unreasonable and foreseeable risks of severe and permanent eye injury due to the negligence of Amazon."
Who’s covered by this lawsuit? How do I join?
The lawsuit proposes to cover anyone nationwide who purchased eclipse glasses from Amazon.com prior to August 21, 2017, and also names a South Carolina-only class.
In general, you don't need to do anything to be a part of a class action lawsuit, other than to hang tight and check back with ClassAction.org for updates on this case.
[Editor's note: The author of this blog post mistakenly slept through the eclipse while on vacation. He (sort of) regrets the error.]
The full complaint can be read below.