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Lawsuit Alleges Eclipse Glasses Caused Permanent Blindness

We trust that the products we purchase will be safe for the purpose intended. We also trust that when promises are made that a product will protect us from a given danger – whether that promise is express or implied – that it will do so. 

The solar eclipse that took place last month was an historic event, and people across the U.S. were eager to have an opportunity to experience it. Special sunglasses that could filter out the sun’s harmful ultra-violet rays were a must-have, and they were in particularly high demand.

However, according to one lawsuit, some manufacturers and vendors sold glasses that were not powerful enough to adequately block the dangerous rays, resulting in a range of vision problems, ranging from temporary discomfort to permanent blindness.

According to media reports, a couple in South Carolina has filed a proposed federal class action lawsuit against online retail giant Amazon, alleging the company sold glasses that were defective, resulting in serious eye injuries.

Amazon did indeed issue a recall of the glasses about a week in advance of the eclipse, saying it could not confirm whether some of the glasses sold through its international marketplace of vendors were made by reputable manufacturers. Both NASA and the American Astronomical Society urged the public to only use glasses that were produced by reputable vendors that met the safety standard for filtering out an adequate amount of dangerous light. Glasses that were made specifically for the eclipse that followed NASA standards are able to block 100,000 times the dangerous light as ordinary sunglasses.

Even short glimpses of the sun, when unprotected, can cause blurred vision or even blindness.

Amazon reportedly started emailing customers about the potential product defects a week before the eclipse, warning of the potential danger and offering refunds. It’s not clear how many online vendors may have been selling unsafe glasses. However, plaintiffs in this case say they never received the information. They allege in their product liability lawsuit that by the time they received this notice, it was “too little too late.”

According to the complaint, defendant knew or should have known the glasses were not fit for use as intended and that they failed to perform in accordance with advertisements, marketing materials and express and implied warranties made by Amazon or with the reasonable expectations of ordinary customers. When Amazon did issue its recall, it indicated it was only doing so out of “an abundance of caution,” yet failed to disclose the scale or identification of the vendors.

Plaintiffs are seeking compensation for medical monitoring so they will be able to timely catch and treat related eye injuries that members of the proposed class might experience. They assert claimants within the class may experience anything from discomfort to serious, permanent injuries. Plaintiffs in Payne v. Amazon are also seeking punitive damages.

Even though Amazon did not manufacture the glasses, the company could still be liable under products liability provisions because it is within the chain of distribution. Stores that sell defective products can be held just as liable as the manufacturers who defectively designed or made the offending product.

If you are injured by a product that fails to perform as advertised, you will need the insight and direction of an experienced product liability lawyer.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Payne v. Amazon , Aug. 29, 2017, U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Charleston Division

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