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The Courts Medicine Science

Amazon Sold Eclipse Glasses That Cause 'Permanent Blindness,' Alleges Lawsuit (arstechnica.com) 229

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A South Carolina couple claims in a proposed federal class-action lawsuit (PDF) that Amazon sold defective eclipse-watching glasses that partially blinded them during the historic coast-to-coast solar eclipse on August 21. Corey Payne and fiance Kayla Harris say in their lawsuit that because of the eyewear Payne purchased from Amazon, the couple is now suffering from "blurriness, a central blind spot, increased sensitivity, changes in perception of color, and distorted vision." Amazon issued a recall of defective and perhaps counterfeit eclipse eyewear in an e-mail sent out to customers before the event. Payne said he did not receive the message. His suit seeks to represent others who were injured or may be injured from the eyewear purchased on Amazon. The alleged Tennessee-based maker of the glasses, American Paper Optics, is not named in the suit. The suit seeks funds "for medical monitoring" because "Plaintiffs and members of the proposed class have or will experience varying degrees of eye injury ranging from temporary discomfort to permanent blindness." The suit also demands unspecified monetary damages, punitive damages, and legal fees and costs.
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Amazon Sold Eclipse Glasses That Cause 'Permanent Blindness,' Alleges Lawsuit

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  • Stupidity (Score:5, Informative)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday August 31, 2017 @06:25PM (#55119581) Journal

    I remember back in the day being told that it wasn't safe to look at the sun even with heavily filtered/polarized glasses during an eclipse. Not even welding masks or goggles were safe, and the only safe way to look at an eclipse was via an indirect method like a pinhole projector. Even now I see the warnings suggest that even with "proper" viewing glasses, you really shouldn't expose yourself for more than a few minutes.

    • I did some quick research on this and, apparently shade 12 and more is sufficient to view with a welding mask. I don't know the details about the different intensities, but I figured if anything could be used it would be a welding mask.

    • by Nutria ( 679911 )

      Shade 14 electric arc welding goggle are safe for viewing solar eclipses.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cdsparrow ( 658739 )

      Big news here: staring at a huge unshielded nuclear reaction may be harmful to eyesight! I'm aghast!

      Seriously though, put the glasses on and look at the sun before the eclipse, if it hurts your eyes doing that, guess what, it'll hurt when you look at the eclipse. This isn't rocket science... These people probably bought the glasses specifically so they could sue afterword, lol.

      • Seriously though, put the glasses on and look at the sun before the eclipse, if it hurts your eyes doing that, guess what, it'll hurt when you look at the eclipse. This isn't rocket science... These people probably bought the glasses specifically so they could sue afterword, lol.

        Much safer test -- if you attach a sun filter to your eyeballs, binoculars or telescope and can see ANYTHING through it at all when not looking directly at the sun your using the WRONG filter.

        • That's actually a much more dangerous test. Blocking 100% of visible light does not mean that 100% (or any) UV light is being blocked. UV light is what does the majority of the damage when you look at the sun.

        • I can see through #14 lenses. Inside, I can see incandescent and LED bulbs. Outside, I can see the sky (on a sunny day). Which is odd, because many years ago when I did arc welding in high school, I couldn't see a damn thing through the #10 lenses until I got the arc going. My theory is that I always did that back in a dimly lit shop.

          Just to be safe, I asked a guy who welds every day if he could identify a #10 lens by looking through it. As soon as he got them on he said "Wow, these are dark!" And the

    • The "more than a few minutes" thing is outdated. Basically, if you have proper, certified, modern glasses, you can stare at the sun with no time limit. If you have counterfeits though, then obvious YMMV.

    • Of course it's safe. It just depends on how long you're going to be staring at it.

      Have you ever seen a sunset? Ever caught a pop fly playing baseball?
      Risk and severity of damage is directly proportional to intensity of exposure times duration of exposure. If you use something that blocks 50% of the light, then you're doubling the amount of time you can stare at it safely (assuming you're blocking all relevant wavelengths, and not just the visible spectrum).

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      And that's why I made a couple of pinhole projector boxes the weekend before (and why our cereal was in plastic bags in the pantry).

    • Re:Stupidity (Score:5, Informative)

      by ayesnymous ( 3665205 ) on Thursday August 31, 2017 @09:15PM (#55120337)
      The AAS says as long as your glasses are certified ISO 12312-2 (adopted in 2015), you can wear them indefinitely (that's a lot longer than 3 minutes at a time):

      https://eclipse.aas.org/eye-sa... [aas.org]

      You can wear welding masks as long as they are shade 14:

      https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/s... [nasa.gov]

    • by mark-t ( 151149 )
      Welding glasses/goggles can be perfectly safe for viewing the sun, as long as they are shade 14 or darker.
    • Even now I see the warnings suggest that even with "proper" viewing glasses, you really shouldn't expose yourself for more than a few minutes.

      If you see a warning like that then throw the glasses away and buy proper ones without the quotes.

    • Even now I see the warnings suggest that even with "proper" viewing glasses, you really shouldn't expose yourself for more than a few minutes.

      Proper solar filters allow you to stare at the sun indefinitely. I have no problem staring at the sun through a powerful telescope and my eclipse glasses are made from the same material as the filter on my scope.

      People need to buy eclipse glasses without quotes around the word proper.

    • I beg to differ. There are perfectly safe filters available which you can use to watch the sun indefinitely. Like many into amateur astronomy I've watched the sun for hours using a Baader astrosolar ND5.0 filter (or an ND3.8 + narrowband) even without an eclipse (brighter than an eclipse sun of course) and that filter doesn't even fit the latest stricter ISO (it lets a harmless amount of UV to allow things like CA II K line imaging). And as far as I know at least shade 14 welding masks are also fine.
      I did o

  • by Chrontius ( 654879 ) on Thursday August 31, 2017 @06:28PM (#55119589)
    You'd think Amazon of all companies could have kept a close eye on their supply chain for these things
    • by known_coward_69 ( 4151743 ) on Thursday August 31, 2017 @06:30PM (#55119603)

      Lately almost everything sold on amazon is sold by third party and amazon just does warehouse, shipping and billing. a lot of stuff is shipped by the third party as well.

      they try to play the game like a common carrier but it won't last for long

      • Lately almost everything sold on amazon is sold by third party and amazon just does warehouse, shipping and billing.

        I've ordered a half-dozen boxes of granola bars from a third-party on Amazon only to find out that they kept five dollars and ordered from Walmart. That's only when Walmart has the granola bars on sale. Otherwise the can't collect their five bucks. I just order direct from Walmart.

        • To be fair, Walmart ordered the same granola bars from its supplier at less than the cost you paid. Sure, they order in bulk, but they also have to open boxes, stock shelves, and staff their stores so you can find all the products in one convenient location. Are you upset that they figured out a way to make a profit on you?
      • Lately almost everything sold on amazon is sold by third party and amazon just does warehouse, shipping and billing. a lot of stuff is shipped by the third party as well.

        they try to play the game like a common carrier but it won't last for long

        Why do you say it won't last long? It's lasted years. You can't buy a real Apple charger on Amazon, 95% of that is fake even though the product description says "made by Apple".

        I mean, Apple is the most highly valued company in the world and if they can't take Amazon to task who will?

        Bezos controls a newspaper (WaPo). You think the "independent press" is going to fuck with him?

        Seriously expect even more of the fake stuff. There's probably stuff you've bought from Amazon that's fake and you don't know i

    • The problem is that Amazon doesn't keep merchandise segregated by seller. So vendor #1 can do everything right, source high-quality ISO-certified glasses, and send them to Amazon for warehousing & fulfillment. Vendors #2 through 87 can buy counterfeit glasses with identical packaging and send them to Amazon. A customer orders glasses from the reputable vendor, but Amazon sends him a counterfeit pair... then fucks the reputable seller because it can't be bothered to even TRY and tell them apart.

      That's wh

    • You'd think Amazon of all companies could have kept a close eye on their supply chain for these things

      I see what you did there.

      Unlike the plaintiffs.

    • kept a close eye on their supply

      Maybe the close eye that they assigned demoed a pair of defective glasses beforehand.

  • Try buying genuine Duracell batteries on the amazon.com site. I see a lot of comments saying that the batteries are not real Duracell.
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      I see a lot of [Amazon] comments saying that the batteries are not real Duracell.

      I hear ya. I ordered a Galaxy Note 7 for the 4th of July, and the damned thing would not blow up. Goddam fake!

  • To be fair... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pfhorrest ( 545131 ) on Thursday August 31, 2017 @06:36PM (#55119639) Homepage Journal

    ...the glasses didn't so much cause permanent blindness as they merely failed to prevent permanent blindness.

  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Thursday August 31, 2017 @06:38PM (#55119647)

    Can you win a lawsuit with a car company over a fault if they've already sent recall notices?

    • But this is worse!
      It's tantamount to suing the dealership where you bought your car after a recall notice by the manufacturer.
      The fact that the (likely) tiny manufacturer isn't even named in the suit smacks of a money grab, pure and simple. I'm willing to bet money that Amazon's lawyers knew this type of thing was going to happen the moment they issued the recall, and have been preparing for it.

      • Yep

        Amazon is just a seller, they didn't make the product, they might not have even sourced it (third-party seller just uses Amazon to collect the money and arrange shipping). So it is even less liability still than a car dealer, I would think it would be limited to returning the money paid during the transaction. It would be more like suing Ebay because someone bought something through it that caused damage. Or suing the credit card company because they enabled and was involved in the transaction.

        Here is

        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          Amazon mixing stock from multiple vendors may have introduced a liability. Consider, customer a well known brand made by a well certified legitimate vendor from Amazon. Actually gets a counterfeit pair from a different vendor because Amazon co-mingled the stock. Relying on legit vendor's assurances they use the glasses....

          Moral of the story: If you offer brand A from vendor A and someone orders it, you damned well better not ship knock-off A from vendor B.

          • Amazon mixing stock from multiple vendors may have introduced a liability. Consider, customer a well known brand made by a well certified legitimate vendor from Amazon. Actually gets a counterfeit pair from a different vendor because Amazon co-mingled the stock. Relying on legit vendor's assurances they use the glasses....

            Moral of the story: If you offer brand A from vendor A and someone orders it, you damned well better not ship knock-off A from vendor B.

            Do you have any proof they do this? I'm pretty certain they don't do it this way. I'm fairly certain that stock for each seller stays separate and they are just storing it for them.

            • by sjames ( 1099 )

              About a zillion references [google.com].

              • About a zillion references [google.com].

                Wow. This was a really stupid idea. It looks like it is optional but it makes no sense. It appears they might even be co-mingling third party items with their own items. I will have to start reconsidering my purchases on amazon. This makes amazon products less trustworthy than ebay. It also doesn't really make sense. Why would you buy a new product and send it to amazon when amazon should in theory always be able to buy in bulk cheaper than you.

        • Amazon is just a seller

          In which case they bear the responsibility - though they can in turn sue their supplier, and so on.

          If you went to a restaurant and ate a steak and it gave you food poisoning would you accept "take it up with the butcher" as an answer?

    • depending on the effort they made to notify people of the recall, definitely! If like Amazon they only emailed for a potentially hazardous recall item then you would almost certainly have a good case.
      • Not at all. The effort and emails depend on the primary communication method. If the only way Amazon ever contacts you is via email then you don't have much of a case at all.

        If however they often send you spam snail mail and then suddenly something important only comes out via email, then you have a case.

  • I suspect a scam (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mike Van Pelt ( 32582 ) on Thursday August 31, 2017 @06:44PM (#55119665)

    I bought a package of the glasses from Amazon (third party was Beemo) and got the email about a week before saying "Don't use them! Amazon has not received confirmation from the supplier of your order that they sourced the item from a recommended manufacturer."

    They seemed adequately dark. The sun (from a brief glance) was a dim orange sphere, and nothing else can be seen through them.

    I did go ahead and get a pair of the real deal glasses. They had a metallic look to them that the Beemo ones did not, but the sun looked the same through them. I suppose the arguably fake ones might be passing UV that the real ones don't.

    Either way, I didn't stare at the sun for minutes through the legit ones, either, just a quick look every now and then.

    I suspect some of this may be a paperwork issue rather than a real one, though there were apparently some really bad fakes that I haven't run across.

    • We also got recalled glasses and used them anyway, no problems noticeable yet. I always suspected the same as you: no certifications/paperwork, not necessarily defective
    • There were also a bunch of eclipse glasses made using film certified for photography, which is a tiny bit less-dark than what's officially required for direct viewing (especially by children... adults generally have some degree of pre-cataracts providing a bit of extra UV protection).

      So, yeah. For adults, it's mainly a regulatory & certification matter. If you used them to look at the sun a few times pre- and post-totality, plus maybe 2-3 minutes before and after, you'd probably sustain more REAL damage

    • Two types of solar film (non-glass) dominate the market for solar filters in amateur astronomy circles. Black polymer [thousandoaksoptical.com] by Thousand Oaks, and Baader astrosolar safety film [astrosolar.com]. The black polymer is black (duh) and produces an aesthetically pleasing orange image of the sun. The Baader film is metallic and photographically superior to black polymer, but makes the sun appear a pale white-pink or white-blue [ecuadors.net].

      Both types are used to produce legit eclipse glasses. Companies buy big sheets of them and cut them to fit

    • They had a metallic look to them that the Beemo ones did not, but the sun looked the same through them. I suppose the arguably fake ones might be passing UV that the real ones don't.

      I spent a lot of time trying to find a decent filter for my camera and my understanding (which could be totally wrong) is that the metallic coating is to deal with IR and allow heat dissipation. You can apparently cook your eyeballs without knowing it. IR can also supposedly cook the sensor on your digital camera right through a neutral density filter, even if its an ND100000 filter that can safely filter out the UV and brightness of the sun itself.

    • I suppose the arguably fake ones might be passing UV that the real ones don't.

      Infra-red light is the real danger here...

  • by oldgraybeard ( 2939809 ) on Thursday August 31, 2017 @06:55PM (#55119717)
    They should really be suing the Retailer with the Amazon store, but where is the huge pay out there ;)
    It will be interesting to see how this turns out! Amazon has a boat load of cash to pay out, but they also could use that boat load of cash to hire armies of the best lawyers in the country.

    My take, the "Scum Sucking" lawyers doing this will not win the Law Suit Lottery!!!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Contract law says your primary claim is with the person or company you have a contract with. The customer has a contract with Amazon: customer pays Amazon, Amazon ships glasses that it has promised are safe for viewing the eclipse. Under traditional common law, the doctrine of privity said that the customer had the right to sue Amazon for breach of contract, but could not sue the manufacturer because there was no contractual relationship between the customer and Amazon (see, e.g., Winterbottom v. Wright). A

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Thursday August 31, 2017 @07:02PM (#55119743) Journal

    Blindness? Bull! Trump stared directly at the sun without glasses and is perfectly nor.......oh, wait, nevermind.

  • That KGW video is crap. **Which** brands are effected???

    Here is a list of safe glasses:

    https://eclipse.aas.org/resour... [aas.org]

    * American Paper Optics (Eclipser) / EclipseGlasses.com / 3dglassesonline.com
    * APM Telescopes (Sunfilter Glasses)*
    * Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold Film)* [see note 1]
    * Celestron (EclipSmart Glasses & Viewers)
    * DayStar (Solar Glasses)
    * Explore Scientific (Solar Eclipse Sun Catcher Glasses)
    * Halo Solar Eclipse Spectacles
    * Jaxy Optical Instrument Co., Ltd.* [see note 2]
    * Lunt

    • So the issue is that there were a number of fakes that looked almost exactly like the real thing. Even looking at American Paper Optic's website (https://www.eclipseglasses.com/pages/safety) shows that it can be extremely hard to visually tell the difference.
  • Bloodsuckers... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msauve ( 701917 ) on Thursday August 31, 2017 @07:12PM (#55119807)
    Amazon recalled some glasses which they believed to be counterfeit. Amazon has also said that customers who did not receive an email purchased glasses that were safe to use. The plaintiffs did not receive an email. Reading the suit, it doesn't make any claim that counterfeit glasses were received, but rather that they got glasses made by American Paper Optics, a reputable vendor according to the American Astronomical Society [aas.org].

    Further, the plaintiffs claim eye damage, but offer no evidence, not even a claim to have seen an ophthalmologist.

    I smell some bloodsucking lawyers and plaintiffs trying to scam a big payoff.
    • Amazon recalled some glasses which they believed to be counterfeit. Amazon has also said that customers who did not receive an email purchased glasses that were safe to use.

      The instructions on the legitimate glasses I saw specifically said not to look at the sun for more than momentary glances, even with the glasses on. If they had legitimate eclipse glasses but failed to follow the instructions, they still could have easily cooked their eyes and it would not be anyone's fault but their own.

      • Amazon recalled some glasses which they believed to be counterfeit. Amazon has also said that customers who did not receive an email purchased glasses that were safe to use.

        The instructions on the legitimate glasses I saw specifically said not to look at the sun for more than momentary glances, even with the glasses on. If they had legitimate eclipse glasses but failed to follow the instructions, they still could have easily cooked their eyes and it would not be anyone's fault but their own.

        Funny thing is according to https://www.eclipseglasses.com... [eclipseglasses.com] even a lot of the fakes had the same warning :P

    • Exactly.
      A reputable claim might be against the vendor that MADE the glasses, but Amazon has gigantic pockets....

    • The counterfeit glasses were claiming to be made by American Paper Optics, but were actually made in China. Despite sourcing from a third party, Amazon held them in their warehouses, processed payment for them, shipped them, and did not warn that they were counterfeit despite recognizing that they had been selling counterfeit glasses. The plaintiffs have a reasonably strong case.

      I smell you don't know what the fuck you're talking about.

      • The counterfeit glasses were claiming to be made by American Paper Optics, but were actually made in China. Despite sourcing from a third party, Amazon held them in their warehouses, processed payment for them, shipped them, and did not warn that they were counterfeit despite recognizing that they had been selling counterfeit glasses. The plaintiffs have a reasonably strong case.

        Not likely - see https://yro.slashdot.org/comme... [slashdot.org] for more details, but essentially given how big a deal was made over the recall, Amazon is likely protected. American Paper Optics, given their information at https://www.eclipseglasses.com... [eclipseglasses.com] in addition to the warnings on the glasses themselves to not look for more than 3 minutes is also likely protected.

        • They're not suing APO. Why would they? What part of counterfeit don't you understand?

          I would call you stupid for not reading the article, but it seems confused as well. Amazon sourced glasses from third parties that claimed to be glasses made by APO, they were sold by Amazon in the listing as APO-made glasses, but they were actually counterfeits made in China with fraudulent branding. That's why APO had to make a page on their website telling people how to identify the counterfeits. And Amazon did not conta

  • by nuckfuts ( 690967 ) on Thursday August 31, 2017 @07:16PM (#55119821)
    Joey Bada$$ proved it [ctvnews.ca]!
  • From a mile off, using their super awesome powers of the obvious sunglasses, as seen on Amazont.com
  • Most of your brain is dedicated toward processing information from your eyes. Why would you risk it even if they tell you that it is safe?

    • There's plenty of videos online available after the event, too.

      "Oh, I've seen it in person!" they will say.

      Yeah and they wasted time, energy and money and risked their eyes for a freakin' shadow.

    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      Unlike you, some people prefer not to walk around with their eyes closed.
  • I bought some of the problem glasses on Amazon. They were very dense gas welding goggles, where what was actually needed would have been a plate from an arc welding mask. Arc welding has a much greatter ultraviolet component. At the time I purchsed them, months before the eclipse, they appeared to be the best things available, and I wanted to stay away from the plastic film glasses if possible. I spent about $150 for three.

    Only a day or two before I left on a trip that was to lead to viewing the eclipse in

    • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

      I viewed the total eclipse using unfiltered Orion 70x15 binoculars on a pantograph mount. I saw everything. The planet mercury, solar prominences, etc. I definitely recommend binoculars.

      Just be sure to stop looking through them well in advance of totality ending. Otherwise, with the magnification, it'll likely burn a hole right through the back of your head. :-D

      But seriously, I ended up with some hard plastic lenses that got recalled, but in spite of that, they were plenty dark enough—way darker than

    • Yay for Prairie City! I could have bumped into you and not even known it. We showed up there with no glasses of any kind. We were just going to enjoy the shadows and use projection until totality. I had looked all around my home town, and somebody told me the only place that might have them was 100 miles away.

      So on Sunday we were walking around Prairie City and they still had the cardboard glasses for sale at the community center for $2/each. Imagine that! They had the ISO number on them, made in the

  • A family-member bought eclipse glasses for the extended family on Amazon. She bought it from this 100% legit listing: https://www.amazon.com/Soluna-... [amazon.com]. When we started seeing the news stories about fake eclipse glasses, we went back to the site and checked the listing, which said they were CE and ISO certified for eclipse viewing. The glasses had the ISO certification printed on them as well.

    So we went and viewed the eclipse. I probably only looked at the sun through the glasses 30-60 seconds total, but my

  • I hope Amazon's legal team absolutely crushes these disgusting people, and bankrupts them of everything they own. I could understand suing the manufacturer and the seller for false claims. That is legitimate. But acting like Amazon should personally inspect and certify every single product sold on its platform is absolutely ridiculous. Honestly, Amazon already goes above and beyond what should be their legal requirements in this area, constantly siding with consumers over sellers, and booting out people

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