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 (David Lazarus/Los Angeles Times)
Does Amazon, which accounts for roughly half of all online sales, have a legal and financial responsibility for the safety of the products that are sold on the site, including those that are offered by third parties, whether they are sold by Amazon itself or by third parties?
The answer from Amazon is no.
It was this week in Los Angeles that a trio of state Court of Appeal justices disagreed with each other.
Under California’s strict liability doctrine, the justices ruled that Amazon is treated as a direct link in the vertical chain of distribution because of its own business practices, rejecting Amazon’s claim that its site is merely a connecting point between buyers and sellers on its platform.
Overall, Amazon is not just a bystander when someone purchases a third-party product on Amazon, and by extension, other online retailers have a role to play as well. I believe it to be one of the most important parts of the transaction.
In addition, in the event that the product turns out to be harmful, the company will be held accountable for it.
“Amazon is the retailer in this case. According to Christopher Dolan, a San Francisco lawyer spearheading the case against Amazon, “they are the ones who sell the products; they are the ones who are selling the product.”
Appellate courts are a vital part of the justice system, ensuring that the voices of everyday people are heard and that important legal rulings stand up to review. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers California and eight other Western states, is one of the most important appellate courts in the country. This week, the court heard arguments in a case that could have far-reaching implications for online commerce.
The case, Amazon v. Lazarus, centers around a dispute over whether or not online merchants can be held liable for items that are sold through their websites but never delivered. In this particular case, a woman named Judith Harris purchased two items from Amazon.com in 2009, but never received them. She sued Amazon in 2011, claiming that the company was responsible for the lost items.