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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

A malfunctioning dog leash could end up creating billions of dollars of potential liabilities for online marketplaces, with Amazon front and center.

Background: A dog leash sold and shipped by The Furry Gang, one of the millions of small sellers that operate on Amazon’s marketplace, snapped, permanently blinding the buyer in her left eye.

  • Amazon is responsible for the injury, according to a 2-1 decision from Philadelphia’s Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Amazon’s involvement in transactions extends beyond a mere editorial function; it plays a large role in the actual sales process,” the opinion states.

Our thought bubble: This ruling challenges the company’s longtime practice of effectively outsourcing quality control to its customers and their reviews. Amazon could now be held liable for all the random things that get sold on its site.

What to watch: This isn’t just bad news for Amazon. The whole e-commerce sector — including companies like Walmart, eBay and Shopify — could come under fire.

Go deeper

Supreme Court rejects second GOP effort to cut absentee ballot deadline in N.C.

Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

The Supreme Court, for the second time in two days, rejected a GOP request to shorten the deadline mail-in ballots must be received by North Carolina officials to be counted.

The state of play: The state's deadline had been extended from 3 days to 9 days post-Election Day.

2 hours ago - Podcasts

The vaccine race turns toward nationalism

The coronavirus pandemic is worsening, both in the U.S. and abroad, with cases, hospitalizations and deaths all rising.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the state of global vaccine development — including why the U.S. and China seem to going at it alone — with medicinal chemist and biotech blogger Derek Lowe.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day.
  2. Politics: Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president" — Space Force's No. 2 general tests positive for coronavirus.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases — Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" wave.
  4. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.