Before the nationwide solar eclipse earlier this month, experts, including some at NASA, warned that solar eclipse glasses on the market may not meet normal standards for eye protection that one should normally wear when staring at the sun. The decentralized nature of Amazon’s marketplace meant that the site was a popular source for potentially insufficient eclipse glasses, and now people who bought them have filed a class action lawsuit against Amazon.
A South Carolina couple accuses Amazon of selling “unfit” eclipse glasses that caused immediate headaches and made their eyes water, and later caused distorted and blurry vision in the days following the eclipse.
In their initial complaint [PDF], the couple argues that they only looked into the sky while wearing their glasses, and that their symptoms must have been caused by defective glasses.
“Defendant owed a duty of care to Plaintiffs and the proposed class to distribute and sell the Eclipse Glasses such that they were neither defective nor unreasonably dangerous when used as intended, to inspect and ensure the glasses that it provided were in fact safe, to warn of any post-sale defects discovered in its products, and recall dangerous products,” their attorneys argue in the case’s initial complaint.
About those eclipse glasses…
Warnings from astronomy experts about the possibility that some eclipse glasses on the market might be counterfeit or not offer enough protection began cicrulating more than a month before the solar event.
Amazon began to notify customers that it was recalling certain glasses sold on the site less than two weeks before the eclipse, with one message going out the weekend before, too late to order replacements online. Amazon has not stated how many vendors were involved in this recall, or how many pairs of unfit glasses were sold.
That left people who had planned ahead and ordered their glasses in advance scrambling at the last minute for protective eyewear made with certified lenses.
“Foreseeable and preventable harm”
The couple in South Carolina claims that they heard nothing at all from Amazon, the site where they bought the allegedly unfit glasses, before the event. The initial complaint in this class action acknowledges that Amazon sent a recall email two days before the eclipse, but doesn’t specify whether they received it.
“The inadequacy of Defendant’s efforts to recall the defective Eclipse Glasses resulted in foreseeable and preventable harm to customers including Plaintiffs,” they note in the initial complaint.
Depending on who officially sold allegedly defective glasses to the lead plaintiffs, Amazon may argue that the official merchant was one of its Marketplace sellers, and that responsibility for ensuring the safety of the glasses belonged with that seller, not with Amazon.
Consumerist contacted Amazon for comment, and will add what the company has to say when we hear back.