A California appellate court rules that Amazon is responsible for third-party products sold to it, rejecting Amazon’s claim of connecting buyers and sellers.David Lazarus/Los Angeles Times
California’s Court of Appeals recently ruled that Amazon.com must be responsible for ensuring safety of third-party vendors. It is also not a neutral technology platform, as previously claimed. This decision could have implications for other companies similar to Amazon.com, such as eBay and Craigslist.
Douglas Soltyski purchased a hoverboard with defective batteries that created a fire hazard in 2013. This decision is a result of an incident in 2013. Soltyski sued Amazon. They claimed that they weren’t liable for third-party vendors’ actions under the Communications Decency Act. California’s 2nd District Court of Appeals disagreed and stated that Amazon “is in a position to regulate [the product] as much or more than its seller.” The seller of defective products must be able to control and limit the product’s potential to cause injury.
California Court Rules Amazon Can Be Held Liable for Third-Party Sellers’ Faulty Products
The court argued that Amazon is the primary seller of products and not just a “platform” to connect buyers and sellers. Therefore, they must be accountable for their safety. The Court also dismissed Amazon’s assertion that they are “merely a conduit” for third party vendors. According to the Court:
Similar claims were made against other companies, such as Uber, Airbnb, and eBay. A jury in 2012 found Airbnb guilty of the death of a New York City guest after it refused to register his guests. The company was fined $2.8 million. The jury in San Francisco found Uber responsible for passenger negligence in 2015 and fined them $258 millions.
Amazon must also decide whether to appeal this ruling, and if so how they will defend themselves against such claims.
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