II Areas of Practice II Ecommerce Product Liability

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Ecommerce Product Liability

CaseyGerry’s recent win against Amazon.com has set precedent for e-commerce liability in California. Attorneys, Jeremy K. Robinson, Thomas D. Luneau, and Jillian F. Hayes represented plaintiff, Angela Bolger against the online retail giant in Bolger v. Amazon.com, LLC.(2020) 53 Cal.App.5th 431.

Ms. Bolger suffered third-degree burns when a replacement laptop battery she bought on Amazon.com exploded while she was using her laptop. The replacement battery was listed on the Amazon Marketplace by a Chinese vendor that identified itself under the fake name of “E-Life.”

Amazon argued it could not be held liable for the defective battery, but the San Diego-based Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division One ruled otherwise. On August 13, 2020, the court published a unanimous opinion holding that Amazon can be held liable for defective products sold by third parties on its Marketplace. Learn more about the case here. The court’s ruling was the first of its kind from any state appellate court in the nation, and was featured in stories run by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Frontline, Bloomberg, CNBC, The Verge, Geekwire, the San Diego Union Tribune, Law360, and many other legal and tech publications.

Liability for Dangerous Products

When you buy a product from a physical store, that store is liable if the product causes you injury because of a defect. The basic idea is the store makes money by selling products and should bear the burdens. The store can also remove defective products from its shelves and make arrangements with product manufacturers to hold them responsible if something goes wrong. However, e-commerce introduces many new complexities in the traditional retail arrangement.

Marketplace Facilitators

Many large e-commerce retailers do not just sell their own goods; they also operate online marketplaces where third parties (often located in China) list products for sale. The marketplace operator is called a marketplace facilitator. Amazon is the largest and most well-known of these marketplace facilitators, but there are others.

The details of how each marketplace facilitator sets up its marketplace vary, but generally, the marketplace facilitator does not own the product being sold. Sometimes, a facilitator will have the product in one of its warehouses and ship it when ordered, and sometimes the product will ship directly from the third party. Usually, the facilitator will process the payment for the product and handle the purchase details. Some facilitators allow communications with the third-party and some do not. These and many other details are critical to determining if a marketplace facilitator is liable for selling you a defective product.

Some courts outside California have allowed marketplace facilitators to escape liability because the facilitator did not own the product, leaving the consumer with no hope of recovery. We at CaseyGerry are fighting to make sure this does not happen in California.

Getting Help

We can help you if a product you bought online failed to function properly and injured you or a family member. CaseyGerry can help you evaluate a case against the online seller. We are on the cutting edge of this field. We keep up to date on the daily legal developments in this area and have an intimate knowledge of the right questions to ask and how to uncover important details to protect your legal rights. Online product liability is a complicated area of the law, and you deserve to speak to an attorney who knows everything about it.

If you have been injured by a product you bought online, contact Casey Gerry today. We will help you figure out what to do. You can reach our firm at (619) 238-1811.

Award-winning Firm & Attorneys

CaseyGerry and its partners have received recognition by legal organizations and national publications and directories, such as U.S. News & World Report, American Association for Justice, Best Lawyers in America, Martindale Hubbell, and Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Many CaseyGerry attorneys have also published authoritative legal articles and share their knowledge with professional organizations and local universities. Several volunteer their services for community organizations and individuals. Our firm was instrumental in providing services to the families of the victims of 9/11, helping spearhead Trial Lawyers Care – the largest pro bono program in the history of American jurisprudence.

We welcome you to contact our firm today for advice. Call CaseyGerry to schedule a consultation with San Diego accident lawyers who have proven knowledge, experience and a commitment to justice.

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Other Areas of Practice

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