Amazon is being sued after a hidden camera, designed to resemble a towel hook, was illegally used to capture photos of a minor in her private bathroom. The plaintiff, a former Brazilian foreign exchange student residing in West Virginia, argues that Amazon failed to prevent the severe harms caused by the camera, despite inspecting it multiple times. Amazon had hoped for the dismissal of the lawsuit, claiming it was not responsible for the alleged criminal conduct. However, a judge recently denied the majority of Amazon’s motion to dismiss.
The judge’s decision was influenced by the product descriptions approved by Amazon. The amended complaint included a photo from Amazon’s product listing, showing towels hanging on hooks that concealed the hidden camera. The text on the image promoted the spy cams, stating that they would not attract attention due to their ordinary appearance. The judge concluded that Amazon cannot claim surprise when consumers use the camera for illicit purposes, as the approved descriptions suggested.
The plaintiff alleges that Amazon’s Product Safety Team inspected the camera to ensure it did not infringe on privacy or facilitate illegal activities. However, the review failed to prevent the camera from being used for unauthorized recording, resulting in severe physical and emotional harm to the plaintiff. Amazon argued that these harms did not constitute physical injury, but the judge disagreed, stating that emotional trauma inflicted during a child’s formative years can have a lasting impact.
The plaintiff’s lawyer commended the court’s decision and emphasized the importance of exploring legal theories related to technology. The plaintiff seeks to hold Amazon accountable for its alleged indifference to the welfare of children and accuses the company of conspiring with the spy cam seller to market and distribute a defective product for illegal purposes.
If Amazon loses the case, it may face punitive damages and could be ordered to cease selling the specific spy cam in question, as well as any similar products. The judge’s ruling could have broader implications for the spy cam industry and Amazon’s role in selling such devices. Discovery will proceed, allowing the plaintiff to present her case at trial and potentially shed light on Amazon’s Product Safety Team’s evaluation process.
It is currently unclear if the spy cam at the center of the lawsuit is still available on Amazon, as the online listing in question has been removed. Amazon has not provided an explanation for its removal.