Amazon may soon be more accountable for more products than the ones it directly sells. According to the LA Times, a California state appeals court has ruled that Amazon is responsible for the safety of third-party products available through its marketplace following a 2015 hoverboard fire. While the internet giant argued that it was only connecting buyers with sellers, judges determined that there was a “direct link” in distribution that made the company liable.
The company won the initial ruling. At the time, a judge sided with Amazon’s view that it was just advertising sellers’ products rather than participating in sales.
In a statement to the Times, Amazon said it “invests heavily” in product safety by screening sellers and products. it also keeps watch on the store for hints of problems. The company declined to comment on the appeal court decision, including whether it intended to challenge the ruling at the state Supreme Court.
The decision, if it holds, could force Amazon to change policies. The tech giant may have to step up its vetting process for sellers and be ready to accept liability for safety problems, including lawsuits. Other stores with similar third-party marketplaces would have to follow suit. That, in turn, might be good news for shoppers —you could see fewer sketchy products in online stores, and you’d have a better chance of resolving safety issues.
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