According to the Los Angeles Times, a California appeals court has ruled that Amazon can be held liable for goods sold through its website by third-party sellers. It’s the second time in California that an appeals court has dismissed Amazon’s long-held claim that it’s just a middleman between consumers and third-party sellers. Despite the fact that the Amazon Marketplace is not a separate or distinct part of Amazon’s website, Amazon refers to these sellers as “Amazon Marketplace.” The goods of third-party vendors are usually included in Amazon listings with a small line of text indicating that Amazon is not the actual seller.
The case at hand involved a woman who sustained burn injuries after a hoverboard she bought from a third-party seller on Amazon in 2015 caught fire. The appeals court found that there was a “direct connection in the vertical chain of distribution under California’s strict liability doctrine,” despite Amazon’s claim that it was only a website linking consumers with sellers.
The decision, according to Christopher Dolan, an attorney for the plaintiff in the hover board case, is a huge victory for consumers. “Amazon cannot avoid responsibility for faulty items it offers to customers by saying it is just an advertiser and not involved in the marketing, delivery, or distribution of goods.
The California Fourth District Court of Appeals overturned a 2019 trial court decision in August, reinstating charges by a woman who claims she sustained third-degree burns after a faulty laptop battery she purchased from an Amazon third-party seller caught fire.
On Saturday, Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. “We invest heavily in the protection and authenticity of all items sold in our shop,” a spokesperson told the LA Times, “including proactively screening vendors and products before they are listed, and regularly monitoring our store for signs of a concern.”