A US-American court has sentenced Amazon to be liable for an exploded notebook battery. A customer had bought it on the Marketplace and filed a complaint. Can we expect to see basic Amazon liability soon?

Actually, we understand the concept Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) to mean that Amazon takes over the storage, packaging and shipping of third-party products.

The purchase contract is then nevertheless concluded between the supplier and the customer. Amazon itself is then out of the picture. But what happens if a product arrives at the customer with defects?

In the first step the dealer is the contact person. However, Amazon must still get involved in the issue of liability, as a US court in California has now decided.

Amazon liability: mail order giant is liable for exploded battery

Because, as the trade newspaper Internet World Business reports, the US American Angela Bolger experienced a nasty surprise after buying a new notebook via Amazon Marketplace. The battery exploded a few months later and Bolger even suffered burns.

Originally, the energy storage device came from the supplier Lenoge, which sells replacement batteries for various devices. According to Internet World Business, the Marketplace is one of the most important trading places for the supplier.

Bolger sued Amazon for damages after the accident. However, the company initially refused to accept Amazon’s liability because it saw itself merely as a facilitator or moderator of the purchase.

US Court of Appeals convicts Amazon

An appeal court in the US state of California, however, sees things differently.

The court describes Amazon’s role as follows: “Amazon placed itself as a de facto and legal entity between Lenoge and Bolger in the distribution chain of the product in question here.”

It goes on to say, “Amazon took possession of Lenoge’s product, stored it in an Amazon warehouse, lured Bolger to Amazon’s website, provided her with a product list for Lenoge’s product, received her payment for the product, and shipped the product to her in Amazon packaging.”

According to the court, Amazon also set the terms of its relationship with Lenoge, controlled the terms of Lenoge’s offer to sell at Amazon, restricted Lenoge’s access to Amazon’s customer information, forced Lenoge to communicate with customers through Amazon, and charged substantial fees for each purchase.

The Court of Appeal therefore insists on full liability for Amazon because the company is not just acting as a facilitator, but was much more involved in the purchase process.

Can we hope for basic Amazon liability?

Whether the ruling can now be a blueprint for a fundamental and globally applicable Amazon liability cannot be seriously assessed at the present time. What is certain, however, is that such a form of liability would be remarkable in any case.

After all, merchants would then only have to sell via Amazon – and would in theory be largely free of any blame if buyers complained about something. Amazon would then have to step in and assume liability. Seen in this light, a full-scale Amazon liability seems unlikely for the time being.

In Germany, for example, we as buyers are obliged to prove that Amazon is also partly to blame for any potential damage. This is because the warranty law does not apply between the buyer and Amazon, but between the buyer and seller.