Amazon Loses Key Battle Over Lethal Product Lawsuit

Amazon Loses Key Battle Over Lethal Product Lawsuit

( – Amazon has failed, for the second time, to have a lawsuit against it dismissed. The California case alleges the online retail giant knowingly sold a dangerous chemical which two people then used to commit suicide. Meanwhile, Amazon says the chemical is a legal product with legitimate uses.

On September 24, 2020, Kristine Jónsson, a 16-year-old girl from Hilliard, Ohio, ordered a bottle of sodium nitrate from Amazon. Six days later she took a lethal dose. On January 1, 2021, 17-year-old Ethan McCarthy of Milton, West Virginia, bought the same brand of sodium nitrate from Amazon and, again, used it to kill himself within a week. Last September, lawyers for their parents filed suit in a California state court alleging sodium nitrate has “zero household uses” and the retailer sold the chemical to the teens “with the knowledge and understanding it would be used to end their lives.”

In fact, sodium nitrate does have household uses; it’s an approved food additive in the US and EU, and is commonly used for curing meat. It can be diluted in water to form brine, or rubbed on ham to help with dry curing. Meat cured with sodium nitrate will last longer and hold on to its color, making it a popular choice for people who make their own ham, sausages, or jerky.

Unfortunately, in high doses, sodium nitrate is also lethal; it lowers blood pressure and blocks the blood from transporting oxygen, and if someone swallows enough of it, they will lose consciousness, suffer heart failure, and die. According to NPR, an Amazon spokesperson admits that “like many products, it can be misused” — but also points out it’s a widely-available and legal chemical. The company has now tried twice to have the case dismissed.

Now, Amazon’s second attempt at a motion for dismissal has failed. Law firm C.A. Goldberg PLLC, which is representing the parents and has also brought an earlier case against the company for selling sodium nitrate, claims “Plaintiff families have won at every stage,” but the case hasn’t actually come to trial yet. Lawyer Carrie Goldberg still has to persuade a jury that Amazon “knew” the chemical has no uses other than suicide. Even though, of course, it does.

Copyright 2023,