Amazon is liable for defective third-party products, California court rules

A California appeals court has ruled(opens in a new tab) Amazon is responsible for defective products sold through its marketplace, even if they are sold by third parties. The decision has significant implications for Amazon, which previously managed to avoid liability by claiming to be only a service provider.

Justice Patricia Guerrero said in her decision, “Whichever word we use to describe Amazon’s role, be it ‘retailer’, ‘distributor’ or simply ‘facilitator’, it is here to bring the product to the consumer.” I was important.”(opens in a new tab), “Under established principles of strict liability, Amazon should be held liable if a product sold through its website is defective.”

Strict liability is a legal standard that holds people responsible for injury caused by their actions, even when no fault or malicious intent was involved.

The court’s finding overturns a San Diego Superior Court ruling from last year. The case concerns a San Diego woman, Angela Bolger, who used Amazon to purchase a replacement laptop battery from an Amazon seller listed as “E-Life” – a pseudonym for Lenoge Technology (HK) Limited. It exploded several months after Bolger received the battery, severely scarring him.

Bolger sued Amazon, which successfully argued that it could not be held liable because it only provided an online marketplace service, and did not manufacture, distribute or sell its batteries.

However, the Court of Appeal found that when the battery was not Amazon-branded, the company’s involvement went beyond that of an online marketplace such as eBay, as Amazon handled payment and shipping as well as stored the battery in one of its warehouses. ,

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“Amazon took possession of Lenoge’s product, stored it in an Amazon warehouse, attracted Bolger to the Amazon website, provided him with a product listing for Lenoge’s product, received his payment for the product, and Amazon shipped the product to her in packaging” Guerrero said. “Amazon sets the terms of its relationship with Lenoge, governs the terms of Lenoge’s offer for sale on Amazon, limits Lenoge’s access to Amazon’s customer information, allows Lenoge to communicate with customers through Amazon forced to communicate, and demanded damages as well as a substantial fee on each purchase”

“Amazon is a direct link in the chain of distribution, acting as a powerful intermediary between the third-party seller and the consumer,” Guerrero continued. “Bolger’s claims are based on Amazon’s role in the chain of production and distribution of the allegedly defective product.”

The ruling follows a previous ruling from the Philadelphia Court of Appeal last year, which also found that Amazon could be held liable(opens in a new tab) For defects in third-party products. Such findings open Amazon to a myriad of complaints from customers seeking redress for faulty third-party products — lawsuits Amazon will no doubt find itself in.

An Amazon spokesperson told Mashable in a statement that the company will file an appeal.

“The court’s decision was wrongly decided and contrary to well-established law in California and across the country that service providers are not liable to third parties for products they do not make or sell,” the spokesperson said. “We will appeal this decision.”

Update: August 15, 2020, 6:40 am AEST Amazon responded to Mashable’s request for comment, which has been added at the end of this story.

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