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Amazon May Face Legal Charges in California for Injuries Caused by Defective Products Sold in its Platform

Amazon, the e-commerce giant, may be held responsible for the injuries and damages caused by the defective products sold in its platform. This was concluded by the Court of Appeals in California last August 13.

The California Court of Appeals’ Fourth Appellate District settled this after revising the case of Angela Bolger, a woman who suffered burns in her legs and arms when the battery for her laptop, which she bought through a third party on Amazon, exploded while she was using it.

It should be said that the California Court of Appeals’ decision opens the door for Amazon to face legal charges in other states for the damages caused by the defective products that are sold in its platform. Currently, Pennsylvania and Ohio are analyzing the matter, while the Federal Courts of Appeals review cases under the laws of California and Texas.

According to the Medicine Department of the University of British Columbia in Canada, pedestrians are 43% more likely to die due to car hits and accidents on Halloween than any other night.

The study conducted by Dr. John A. Staples states that teenagers between 13 and 17  years are more likely to be hit by a vehicle (61 cases in 42 years) than children between 9 and 12 years (47 kids injured in the same period), but less than adults of 50 years or older (189 people injured on that time).

Moreover, 608 deaths were recorded in the 42 Halloween nights that were analyzed and among them, men were more likely to be hit by cars (414) than women (194).

To conduct this study, Staples reviewed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) pedestrian accident statistics from 1975 to 2016, focusing on incidents that occurred on the evening of October 31.

The Leading Case

Angela Bolger bought a battery for her laptop from the seller Lenoge Technology HK Ltd, on Amazon. The battery exploded months later while she was using the computer on her thighs, provoking her third-degree burns on her arms, legs, and feet.

After the incident, Bolger demanded Lenoge and Amazon for her injuries. However, the Supreme Court of San Diego decided the e-commerce giant was not liable for the incident, because it acted only as a service provider.

Unhappy with the decision, Bolger brought the case to the Court of Appeals, where it was determined that Amazon could not protect itself from liability under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Amazon damage product

According to the said section, online platforms cannot be considered responsible for the content posted by users.

According to the Court, the Act couldn’t be applied in this case, as the liability depends on theown activities of Amazon, not of its condition as speaker or editor of the content given by Lenoge for its list of products.”

It is worth mentioning that Lenoge Technology HK Ltd, the battery seller, is part of the “Amazon Fulfilled” program, in which suppliers ship their products to Amazon warehouses, as Amazon is in charge of shipping the products to the buyer.

In this program, Amazon controls the packing for shipping. The clients that return products ship their products to the e-commerce company instead of to the seller. To participate in this program, the suppliers must pay additionals fees.

 “Amazon set the terms of its relationship with Lenoge, controlled the conditions of Lenoge’s offer for sale on Amazon, limited Lenoge’s access to Amazon’s customer information, forced Lenoge to communicate with customers through Amazon, and demanded indemnification as well as substantial fees on each purchase,” the Court of Appeals claimed. 

According to the Court of Appeals, it doesn’t matter the term we use to describe Amazon, whether it’s ‘retailer,’ ‘distributor,’ or merely ‘facilitator,’ as Amazon was pivotal in bringing the product from the seller to the consumer.

Lenoge, who was listed in Amazon as “E-Life,” was also demanded by Bolger but never appeared at the trial. Due to this, a court of first instance issued a default judgment against the company.

Even though this is the first time Amazon faces charges of liability, the Court of Appeals’ Fourth Appellate District ruling takes place when California lawmakers discuss legislation that could put Amazon and other e-commerce operators under strict liability law.

If you have suffered an injury caused by a defective product, remember that in Farahi Law Firm, we have specialized attorneys that will help you. We are available 24/7 to answer your questions. Call us at (844) 244-2955 for a free evaluation of your case.

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