Last year I reported on a recently decided case in California finding that Amazon.com could be liable for products liability. See here. Earlier this year, I reported that the Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a similar case. See here.
Today, I am reporting that an appellate court in California recently decided that Amazon can be held liable for injuries caused by product bought from independent third party sellers through Amazon. The case is called Loomis v. Amazon.com, and you can read the opinion here.
In Loomis, the plaintiff bought a product from a manufacturer who paid Amazon a "subscription" to sell products in Amazon and a small fee (15% of the sale price). Amazon argued that it should not be liable to the consumer because it operates only as a marketplace, not as a seller in the chain of commerce. The court didn't buy it (excuse the pun!).
The court found that Amazon operated as a seller, or at least a distributor in the chain of commerce, rather than as a neutral "mall". Amazon handled all product advertising, payment processing, and communication between Loomis and the manufacturer, which was not allowed to speak with her directly. Also, Amazon may be the only member of the distribution chain reasonably available for an injured consumer to recover damages.