The California appeals court holds Amazon responsible for the products of third-party sellers


A California court of appeal has ruled that Amazon can be held liable for products sold through its marketplace by a third-party seller, the Los Angeles Times reported. It is the second major case in California where an appeals court has rejected Amazon’s longstanding position that it is merely an intermediary between buyers and its outside sellers. Amazon collectively refers to these sellers as the “Amazon Marketplace,” even though it is not a separate or separate part of Amazon’s website. Products from third-party sellers usually appear in Amazon listings, with a small line of text to indicate that Amazon itself is not the actual seller.

The problem was the case of a woman who suffered burns after a hoverboard she bought on Amazon in 2015 through a third-party merchant that caught fire. Amazon argued that it was merely the platform connecting customers to sellers, but the appeals court ruled that there was a “direct link in the vertical supply chain under the California doctrine of strict liability.”

Christopher Dolan, a lawyer for the plaintiff in the hoverboard case, said in a statement that the ruling was a big win for consumers. “Amazon cannot avoid liability for defective products it sells to consumers by claiming that it is not involved in the marketing, sale and distribution of goods and is merely an ‘advertiser,'” Dolan said in an emailed statement to The edge.

Last August, the California Fourth District Court of Appeals reversed a court ruling from 2019, recovering claims from a woman who says she sustained third-degree burns when a faulty laptop battery she bought from a third-party seller on Amazon caught fire.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday. A spokesman said LA Times that it “invests heavily in the safety and authenticity of all products offered in our store, including proactively vetting sellers and products before listing, and constantly monitoring our store for signs of concern.”