Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
California Appeals Court Rules Amazon Can Be Held Liable For Defective Products Sold Through Its Site

California Appeals Court Rules Amazon Can Be Held Liable For Defective Products Sold Through Its Site

Lieff Cabraser attorney Evan Ballan & Ben Siminou of Siminou Appeals file persuasive amicus brief on behalf of Public Justice and the CAOC in support of injured plaintiff Angela Bolger

A California Court of Appeals has ruled that Amazon can be held strictly liable in the state for dangerously defective products sold by third parties on its website, including those listed as being “Fulfilled by Amazon.” The pivotal decision comes after evidence was presented showing that the company’s online marketplace is flooded with defective, dangerous, counterfeit, substandard, and even flat-out illegal products.

In March 2020, Lieff Cabraser attorney Evan J. Ballan and Ben Siminou of Siminou Appeals filed an amicus brief in the case on behalf of legal advocacy organizations Public Justice and the Consumer Attorneys of California in support of plaintiff Angela Bolger, who suffered serious injuries after purchasing a defective Chinese laptop battery on Amazon’s site. The battery was “sold by E-Life” (a made-up company name) and was listed as “Fulfilled by Amazon.” Ms. Bolger paid Amazon directly, and the battery was shipped via free two-day Prime shipping from an Amazon warehouse, in Amazon packaging. Not long after the purchase, the battery exploded while she held the computer on her lap, causing serious third degree burns to her arms, legs, and feet. After spending multiple weeks in the hospital, Ms. Bolger tried to seek a remedy from the sellers and manufacturers behind “E-Life,” but they failed to appear and/or could not be served in the U.S.

As Public Justice notes, “those same third-party sellers flooding Amazon’s site with dangerous products are frequently judgment-proof. Amazon allows them to sell products under made-up names, and they are often fly-by-night or foreign entities who can’t be found, served, and/or collected from. Without being able to get a remedy from Amazon, victims—who have been burned, blinded, and left homeless by malfunctioning Amazon purchases—are left uncompensated.”

The ruling in this case is especially meaningful as it serves as the plaintiff’s only means of receiving compensation for the serious injuries she suffered. It also serves as a major victory for California consumers who may find themselves victims of other dangerously defective products sold on the Amazon marketplace.