California court rules Amazon may be held liable for defective products from third-party sellers

Illustration from the article titled California Court of Appeals Rules: Amazon May Be Held Responsible for Third Party Sellers'  Defective products

Photo: Christopher furlong (Getty Images)

A new chapter unfolded this week in Amazon’s years-long legal battle to sell explosive hoverboards. A California appeals court has ruled that the e-commerce giant is responsible for the security of third-party products sold on its platform, according to the Los Angeles Times.

At the center of this case is Kisha Loomis, a woman who was “badly burned” after a hoverboard she bought from Amazon in 2015 through a third-party vendor caught fire. A series of similar incidents prompted the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to launch an investigation in device security, and Amazon subsequently accepted offer refunds to hoverboard customers living in the United States or Canada.

Initially, a California judge sided with Amazon, which argues that it only connects customers with sellers and should not be held responsible for security issues resulting from those transactions. However, an appeals court ruled this week that Amazon is a “direct link in the vertical distribution chain under the California strict liability doctrine, acting as a powerful intermediary between the third-party seller and the consumer.” You can view the full decision here.

Christopher Dolan, one of Loomis’ attorneys, called the court ruling a big win for consumers in a statement to the edge.

“Amazon cannot escape its responsibility for the defective products it sells to consumers by claiming that it is not involved in the marketing, sale and distribution of products and is only an ‘advertiser’.” , he told the store on Saturday.

In a statement to The Times, Amazon said it “invests heavily in the safety and authenticity of all products offered in our store, including proactively reviewing sellers and products before they are listed, and by constantly monitoring our store for signs of a problem. ” Amazon did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment, but we’ll update this blog when they do. If Amazon chooses to challenge that ruling, the case could go to the California Supreme Court.

Amazon has a long story advertising unsafe third-party products, often almost anonymous sellers on its platform. Many of these articles would be stored in Amazon’s own warehouses through the company’s distribution activity, Amazon Logistics.

Legal decisions have always been in Amazon’s favor, but the tide has started to turn in recent years. In August, another California appeals court reversed a 2019 trial court ruling in favor of Amazon in a case where a woman suffered severely burn after the battery on a laptop She said she bought a third-party seller on Amazon caught fire. A federal appeals court ruled in 2019 that Amazon could be held liable for sales of defective products after a customer was blinded in one eye by an allegedly defective retractable the dog’s leash. Lawsuits Exploding hoverboards have also arisen in several other states.

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