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CA appellate court rules Amazon is responsible for the safety of third-party products it sells, rejecting Amazon’s claim of merely connecting buyers and sellers

Should Amazon, which represents about 50% of all online sales, be financially and legally responsible for the security of products offered on the website, as well as those sold by third-party sellers?

Amazon states that they are not.

Three State Court of Appeal justices in Los Angeles this week said that they did not agree.

“We are convinced that Amazon’s business practises are directly connected to the chain vertical of distribution, as per California’s strict liability law,” the justices ruled, rejecting Amazon’s assertion that it is just an online platform that connects consumers and sellers.

The company could be held accountable in the event that the product proves to cause harm.

Amazon is the retail store. “They’re the ones who sell products,” claimed Christopher Dolan, the San Francisco lawyer who spearheaded the lawsuit against the giant of e-commerce.

“Because of this decision,” he said to me, “you can be sure Amazon is revising all of its rules regarding third-party sellers and is making it happen today.”

The majority of products offered by Amazon come from third-party vendors, which is a key aspect of Amazon’s dominant position in the market. For the quarter ending in April of 2020, this percentage soared to a record 55 percent.

This is the purchase in December 2015 of a toy for kids, which is a hoverboard owned by Kisha Loomis, who is a resident of Oroville, located in Butte County, north of Sacramento.

Remember hoverboards? They were self-balancing devices designed to look like the flying skateboards in “Back to the Future, Part II.”

The real-world versions weren’t as exciting as the version Marty McFly rode around on in the fictional California town of Hill Valley. They came with wheels and were powered by batteries that contained lithium-ion.

The trouble was, the batteries were known to have a habit of burning up.

This is exactly what happened with the hoverboard purchased by Loomis on Amazon from a Chinese manufacturer as a Christmas gift for her son.

Just a few days after this holiday, Dolan stated that the board “exploded when it was charging in the room.” Loomis was “severely burned,” he said, “as she attempted to take the burning object out of her house.”

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