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State appeals court rules Amazon can be held liable for allowing sale of defective products

State appeals court rules Amazon can be held liable for allowing sale of defective products
© ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

A state appeals court in California has ruled that Amazon could be held liable for injuries due to defective products sold on their marketplace, similar to other traditional retailers, according to Reuters.

The appeal overturned a ruling from San Diego Superior Court that found Amazon was protected from liability because it is a service provider, which is not subject to California product liability law.

Though Amazon sells its own products on its marketplace, it also allows third-party vendors to list products for sale on its website. Those vendors store their products in Amazon’s warehouses or ship them directly to customers.

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The lawsuit was brought by Angela Bolger, a woman who alleges that a defective replacement laptop battery she bought off Amazon caught fire and gave her third-degree burns.

The court ruled that Amazon placed itself in “the chain of distribution” and was intensely involved in the sale of the product, including demanding “substantial fees on each purchase.”

“Whatever term we use to describe Amazon’s role, be it ‘retailer,’ ‘distributor,’ or merely ‘facilitator,’ it was pivotal in bringing the product here to the consumer,” the appeals court held, according to the wire service. 

The ruling could be a blow to Amazon, which has fought off a number of similar lawsuits for years. 

“Consumers across the nation will feel the impact of this,” said Jeremy Robinson, an attorney for Bolger, told CNBC.