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California court: Amazon liable for injuries from defective products
A California state appeals court ruled that Amazon.com can be held liable for injuries from defective products sold by third parties via its e-commerce marketplace.
The judgment overturned a San Diego Superior Court ruling that it was not subject to California product liability having acted as a service provider.
On top of selling its inventory, Amazon peddles products from third-party vendors, who may store their goods in Amazon’s warehouses or ship them directly to customers.
The appeals court held that regardless of how Amazon’s role was described, be it a retailer, distributor, or facilitator, it was pivotal in bringing the product to the consumer.
Plaintiff Angela Bolger’s purchased a laptop battery from a third-party seller via Amazon that allegedly burst into flames, resulting in severe burns to her arms, legs, and feet.
In multiple lawsuits that Amazon had faced, most courts concluded it was not a seller under various states' product liability laws.
A few rulings have gone the other way and allowed Amazon to be sued.
Pennsylvania’s and Ohio’s top courts are tackling the issue, and federal appeals courts are weighing cases under California and Texas law.
California lawmakers are considering legislation that would put operators of online marketplaces on equal footing under the state’s liability law.