David Lazarus from Los Angeles Times: The California appellate court rules Amazon responsible for the safety and security of third-party goods it sells. This rejects Amazon’s claim that it is only connecting buyers with sellers
California’s Court of Appeals has ruled that Amazon.com must assume responsibility for ensuring that third-party vendors do not sell unsafe products to it. This is in addition to the fact that Amazon.com is not a “neutral technology portal” as they previously claimed. This decision could also have ramifications for similar companies such as eBay and Craigslist.
Douglas Soltyski was the plaintiff in a 2013 incident that saw him purchase a hoverboard equipped with a defective battery. This created a fire hazard. Soltyski sued Amazon. Amazon claimed they were not responsible for third-party vendors’ actions. California’s 2nd District Court of Appeals disagreed. It stated that Amazon is “in a place to control [the products] as much as its seller.” Its ability limit and control the product’s potential to cause injuries fulfills the traditional requirement for any seller of defective products.
California Court Rules Amazon Can Be Held Liable for Third-Party Sellers’ Faulty Products
The court held that Amazon is a primary seller and not merely a “platform” connecting buyers and sellers. It therefore must be responsible for their safety. Amazon’s claim of being a “sole conduit” for third-party sellers was also rejected by the Court. The Court stated:
This decision is similar to other claims against companies like Airbnb, Uber, and eBay. After Airbnb refused to delete his unregistered guests, a jury held Airbnb responsible for the death in New York City. They were fined $2.8million. A jury in San Francisco convicted Uber of passenger negligence and assessed a $258 million fine.
Amazon will have to make a decision on whether or not they want to appeal the decision and, if so, how to defend themselves against such claims.