Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Family Wants Amazon to Pay for its Role in Sale of Dangerous Product that Killed Teen Athlete

Image of a close-up view of a row of dumbbells on a rack inside a gym

Family sues Amazon for teen athlete’s death from pure caffeine “pre-workout” powder purchased online.

Image of a close-up view of a row of dumbbells on a rack inside a gym

Family sues Amazon for teen athlete’s death from pure caffeine “pre-workout” powder purchased online.

Logan Stiner was a high school wrestler in Lorain County when he asked his friend about “pre-workout” supplements to enhance his training. The friend searched using the word “pre-workout.” She landed on a page featuring a product called “Hard Rhino,” sold by an Arizona company that imported pure caffeine from China. Stiner’s friend purchased the product.

Stiner’s friend delivered some powder in a plastic baggie to him with a warning from her that taking too much could kill him. Later that day, Stiner was found unresponsive by his brother, and pronounced dead shortly after.

Stiner’s father filed a lawsuit against the company that sold the powder, the importer, the classmate, and Amazon. He reached settlements with all but Amazon, which argued that under the Ohio Product Liability Act, it wasn’t legally responsible for the sale of the deadly substance. The Ohio Supreme Court will consider the family’s contention that Amazon played a key role in the sale during a two-day session of oral arguments next week.

Even Without Touching Product, Amazon Was Supplier, Father Argues
Amazon prevailed in two lower court decisions, arguing that it wasn’t a “supplier” or “manufacturer” of the pure caffeine, and Stiner can’t hold the company liable under the product liability act, which is R.C. 2307.71 to R.C. 2307.80.

The Supreme Court will consider Stiner’s argument that Amazon fits the definition of “supplier” under R.C. 2307.71(A)(15) as one who “otherwise participates in the placing of a product in the stream of commerce.” He maintains Amazon does so by promoting and facilitating the sale of the products from third-party sellers like Tenkoris LLC, the one who sold the caffeine powder to the teen. Amazon not only participates, but also controls the sales of products on its website, making it a supplier, he concludes.

Company States Website Functions as Store, Not Supplier
Amazon notes that Ohio law has a clear definition of “supplier,” and the language of the law lists actions involving ownership, control, and hands-on action with a product. The company states it is an online store, and took no action that would qualify it as a “supplier” of the caffeine powder ingested by Stiner.

Amazon maintains it was Tenkoris that placed the caffeine powder “into the stream of commerce” when it advertised the powder on Amazon and other websites. The company argues Ohio’s legislature defines who is a “supplier,” and any change in the definition that incorporates companies that facilitate or promote products online should come from lawmakers and not the Court.

Oral Argument Details
To comply with state directives during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Court will hear oral arguments  in seven cases via teleconference on April 28 and 29. The Court will hear Stiner v. Inc. and two other cases on April 29, and will hear four other cases on April 28. Oral arguments begin at 9 a.m. All arguments are streamed live online at, and broadcast live and archived on The Ohio Channel.
In addition to these highlights, the Court’s Office of Public Information released preview articles today about each case, available through the case-name links.

Tuesday, April 28
A Franklin County trial court sentenced a man to 19 years in prison with a mandatory 5-year period of postrelease control (PRC) when he got out of prison. However, the court’s sentencing entry didn’t indicate the consequences if he violated PRC. Including the consequences in the sentencing entry is required to validly impose a PRC sanction, according to a 2017 Ohio Supreme Court ruling, the man argues in State v. Hudson. The county prosecutor counters that the Court’s decision doesn’t apply in this case because the man was sentenced years earlier, in 2006.

A Mahoning County man was 17 years old when he took part in a crime in which a man was killed after being robbed of a video gaming system. The juvenile was tried as an adult and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 33 years. In State v. Patrick, the man argues that a trial court violates a juvenile’s Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment if the court imposes a life sentence without considering youth as mitigating evidence and doesn’t give a juvenile the chance to seek release until he is in his 50s.

An attorney hired to represent a client in a Sandusky County defamation lawsuit is facing a possible public reprimand. The state’s professional conduct board found that the Port Clinton attorney didn’t communicate to his client the planned tactics for handling the case or the potential financial impact of that decision. In Disciplinary Counsel v. Reinheimer, the attorney objects to the board’s findings and the proposed sanction, contending that the board found he violated professional conduct rules that were added after the disciplinary hearing. The investigating organization states that the attorney had notice that his client communication was part of the disciplinary case.

An Indiana-based company is an authorized seller of home security systems, and installed the security equipment in several Ohio homes and businesses. The company initially contracted with customers to enter into monitoring service agreements with the security service. It then transferred the contracts to the security service, headquartered in Colorado, to receive monthly payments for the monitoring rights. The company paid Ohio’s commercial activity tax on the receipts of its sales of the contracts for tax years 2010 to 2013. In Defender Direct v. Ohio Tax Commissioner, the company seeks a refund, claiming  it isn’t obligated  to pay the Ohio tax because the location of the recipient of the benefits of the service contracts was in Colorado.

Wednesday, April 29
In State v. Hackett, a Youngstown man on trial for the 2013 murder of a roommate decided to represent himself. The trial court appointed standby counsel for him, explaining that the man had the right to an attorney or the right to represent himself with the assistance of standby counsel. The man was convicted. He argues the trial court stated the only role for his standby counsel was to take over if he decided he no longer wanted to represent himself. He maintains that the court interpreted a prohibition on “hybrid representation” so broadly that he was deprived of any assistance from his standby counsel. The county prosecutor responds that there is no constitutional right to standby counsel and that the court properly limited the standby counsel’s role.

The Cuyahoga County children services agency instructed a mother to bring her 13-year-old son to the agency’s office for an interview. The young teen was interviewed alone by an agency social worker, who then submitted a report to the police about alleged sexual activity in 2015 between the 13-year-old and his mother’s boyfriend’s daughter, who was 12. Charges were filed against the boy. The brief for the charged juvenile in In re M.H. argues his statements to the social worker should be suppressed because he wasn’t told his rights, such as being free to leave the interview or that his mother could be present. The county prosecutor argues the teen wasn’t coerced by the social worker and wasn’t in police custody.