By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
The bad news is that the most viewed eclipse in history resulted in permanent eye injuries for people who purchased counterfeit or defective eclipse glasses on Amazon. The good news? If your eyes were fried by last month's eclipse, there is now a class action personal injury lawsuit pending and one of the law firms representing the plaintiffs is the Hannon Law Firm, LLC which is conveniently located on Downing Street in Denver, Colorado.
The class action lawsuit against Amazon was filed on August 29th by a Charleston, South Carolina couple who sustained eye injuries after viewing the August 21st eclipse. The compensation is an undisclosed amount that will exceed $75,000 according to the Class Action Complaint on file. "Corey Payne and Kayla Harris said they experienced headaches and vision impairment after using the glasses to watch the US eclipse on 21 August," reported the BBC last week.
Amazon issued a recall on August 10th, however the South Carolina couple says they were not notified in time and ended up viewing the eclipse through defective glasses. The couple experienced headaches, watery eyes and dizziness in the hours following the eclipse and reported experiencing distorted vision during the days that followed.
According to PBS digital science producer, Nsikan Akpan, Amazon had been offering to reimburse customers who purchased defective glasses before the eclipse however Amazon refused to list names of the vendors carrying the faulty products.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) provided information to the public on how to obtain ISO and ISO 12312-2 compliant glasses. The American Astronomical Society (AAS) also issued a list specifying credible eclipse glasses retailers vendors along with credible sources for camera lens solar filters.
According to ABC, "Paper Optics" was one of the manufacturers responsible for selling products that resulted in eye damage however, the name of the manufacturer is not specified on the Class Action Complaint and Amazon currently carries a number of American Paper Optics product listings with no mention of the lawsuit. An Amazon sellers forum, however, is discussing the lawsuit.
On their website, American Paper Optics claims to be ISO certified and tested. The company is also first on the AAS list of safe manufacturers. A safety notification on American Paper Optics' website however illustrates the visual characteristics that distinguish real from counterfeit eclipse glasses.
"American Paper Optics" is a Tennessee based company who, according to TopClassActionsDOTcom "projected it would make and sell 100 million pairs of eclipse glasses, about 10 million of which were sold to Amazon.
"Amazon attempted to recall these Amazon eclipse glasses in an email announcement sent out Aug. 19, two days before the eclipse. The email stated that the supplier of Amazon eclipse glasses could not confirm that they were produced by a recommended manufacturer. Amazon recommended that people not use the glasses to view the eclipse.
The plaintiffs say this recall announcement was “tragically too little, too late.” Despite the allegedly inadequate email announcement, plaintiffs and their proposed Class Members still used these Amazon eclipse glasses to view the eclipse, exposing themselves to eye damage.
Payne says he bought a three-pack of eclipse glasses from Amazon on Aug. 1. He and Harris, his fiancée, say they never got notice of the Amazon eclipse glasses recall before they used these glasses to watch the eclipse."
"The safety of solar eclipse glasses was a major concern of astronomy experts in the weeks leading up to the much-watched event," according to MarketWatch, "Third-party online vendors, such as Amazon and eBay, EBAY... monitored their sites for counterfeit solar eclipse glasses, removing posts and refunding customers for glasses that were not compliant with safety standards, both companies told MarketWatch," when interviewed for the story.
The United States district court document excerpt is attached below. The complete document was obtained through Geekwire and you can click through to view that document in full. We'd love to hear your thoughts on the case.
A screenshot of American Paper Optics' warning is also included along with a link to their website. It is still unclear whether the glasses the plaintiffs purchased through Amazon were counterfeit or defective, however we expect to be learning more shortly.
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