FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CALIFORNIA COURT OF APPEALS TO HEAR ARGUMENT ON AMAZON’S LIABILITY FOR SALES OF DEFECTIVE PRODUCTS WHICH INJURE AMAZON CUSTOMERS TUESDAY FEBRUARY 23
San Francisco – February 22, 2021 – The California Court of Appeals will hear oral argument on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021, on the question of whether Amazon can be held liable for injuries caused by defective products made by “3rd Party Sellers” who list and sell their products on Amazon and ship direct to customers.
Kisha Loomis was burned and her house caught fire when a hoverboard she bought for her son for Christmas 2015 blew up in her home. The hoverboard was manufactured in China by a Chinese company “Smileto” and sold under the alias “TurnUpUp” on Amazon as a Smart Balance Wheel. Smileto sold over 380,000 hoverboards on Amazon in the 4th Quarter leading up to Christmas. On November 28, 2015, Ms. Loomis bought the hoverboard on Amazon who placed the order with Smileto/TurnUpUp which directly shipped the product to Ms. Loomis who received it on December 16, 2015. Amazon collected and processed payment receiving 15% of the $370.00 sales price ($55.00) plus a listing fee and other related fees.
In November 2015, Amazon became aware of hoverboards spontaneously bursting into white-hot flames. On November 20, 2015, Costco had recalled the same Smart Balance Wheel product. On December 4th, 2015, Amazon UK pulled all hoverboard listings, including Smileto’s, down because of fire danger. On December 10, 2015, Amazon acknowledged it was aware of at least 17 reports of hoverboards sold on Amazon spontaneously bursting into flames and stated they were concerned that there were fire safety issues from “Chinese hoverboards.” Only then did the Amazon “Product Safety Team” take down tens of thousands of hoverboard listings. AMAZON did not inform Ms. Loomis about the danger associated with the hoverboard she had purchased. Amazon did not tell the sellers to stop shipping the hoverboards already purchased and the dangerous hoverboard was shipped and arrived on December 16, 2015 and was placed under the Loomis family’s tree. It was opened on December 25th and, on December 31st, while plugged into an outlet, it spontaneously burst into intense, flare-like flames. Ms. Loomis was burned, and her home was heavily damaged.
The Chinese manufacturer had “gone out of business” and Amazon was sued as a retailer under California Law that holds manufacturers, distributors, retailers and others in the chain of marketing, sale, and distribution liable for damages caused by defective products they sell.
A Los Angeles Trial Court sided with Amazon saying it was not in the chain of distribution and not a seller of products but, instead, a platform where buyers and sellers are put together and, further, that they were protected by the Computer Decency Act, Section 230 as their posting was protected speech.
Christopher Dolan, Appellant Loomis’ attorney, stated, “This is one of the most important cases before the courts. A mom-and-pop toy store which sold the same product would be held liable as a retailer but Amazon, the biggest online retailer with 46% of online sales, valued at over a trillion dollars, will go scot-free? This is a crime. First, they drive retailers out of business and then claim that they can’t be held liable as a retailer even though they control the whole transaction. As they take over the world of sales, they must also assume the responsibility those brick and mortar stores they put out of business had. Let’s face it, Amazon is selling products, making a huge profit, and not making an effort to assure that the foreign and domestic goods they sell are safe. They want all of the money but none of the responsibility. They have to be stopped.”
The 1:00 p.m. hearing may be viewed remotely at https://primetime.bluejeans.com/a2m/live-event/yxpekfyh.