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California Court of Appeal: Amazon Can Be Liable for Virtual Marketplace Product Liability

August 17, 2020

In a precedent-setting ruling, the San Diego-based Court of Appeal Fourth District, Division One ruled that Amazon can be held liable for defective products sold on its virtual marketplace – like other retailers. This ruling is the first of its kind in the nation and the only published ruling holding Amazon liable in this situation.

Following oral arguments on August 11, 2020, the Court of Appeal ruled that Amazon should be treated like other retailers – and be subject to California’s strict product liability laws.

San Diego-based law firm CaseyGerry represents the plaintiff Angela Bolger – who was seriously injured in a laptop battery fire – in this closely watched landmark case. Bolger purchased a Lenoge Technology HK Ltd. replacement laptop battery sold by third party vendor, E-Life. The battery later caught fire when she was on the computer, causing life-altering third-degree burns.

“It is impossible to overstate the magnitude of this ruling,” CaseyGerry partner Jeremy Robinson, who argued the case, said. “Consumers across the nation will feel the impact of this.” Robinson was assisted on the appeal by CaseyGerry partner Thomas Luneau and associate Jillian Hayes.

In 2019, a lower court ruled in Amazon’s favor, stating the company was not covered under product liability laws. Bolger appealed the ruling, and this decision is the outcome of that appeal. “This case moves product liability law into the twenty-first century,” Robinson added.

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