Amazon Strictly Liable For Third Party Transactions On Website, California Court Rules

On August 13th, the California Court of Appeals ruled Amazon was strictly liable for injuries sustained by a customer who purchased a defective product on the “marketplace” portion of its site.

The case arose after a woman purchased a laptop battery from a third-party seller on Amazon Marketplace. The battery exploded and burned the woman.

Amazon claimed that because it did not distribute, manufacture, or sell the battery, it could not be held liable. The trial court agreed. But the California Court of Appeals reversed the decision, holding that Amazon played a “pivotal” role in the distribution chain and so could be held strictly liable.

Amazon faces similar charges in a case before the Ohio Supreme Court and at the federal level in cases before the Fifth Circuit and Third Circuit. Amazon plans to appeal the California court’s ruling.