A California appellate court ruled that online retailer Amazon is responsible for a hoverboard that exploded, burst into flames, and caused severe burn injuries. According to the Los Angeles Times, in December 2015, Butte County resident Kisha Loomis bought a hoverboard that was powered by lithium-ion batteries as a Christmas present for her son.
Trial Court’s Decision Reversed
Less than a week after the holiday, the hoverboard exploded while charging in a bedroom. Loomis suffered severe burn injuries as she attempted to throw the burning hoverboard. The Times column states Los Angeles firefighters also encountered their first exploding hoverboard around the same time Loomis’ device blew up. The Los Angeles incident occurred in Koreatown when a hoverboard caught fire on a sidewalk while it was in use.
In Loomis’ case, the Chinese manufacturer and the U.S. distributor had gone out of business leaving only Amazon to be held accountable for the injuries to Loomis and damage to her home. Initially, a Los Angeles judge agreed with Amazon that it was merely an online advertiser and cannot be held liable for third-party products. The lawsuit was dismissed in March 2019. However, this week, the appellate court overturned that ruling, holding Amazon accountable for the products it allows third parties to sell on its website.
What The Decision Means for Consumers
This is definitely a clear win for consumers. The appellate court’s decision makes it clear that online merchants can no longer hide behind the excuse that they are merely an “online marketplace” that connects buyers and sellers. They will still be held responsible for distributing defective products.
The ruling also sets forth a legal marker that consumers can demand satisfaction from online merchants for the products they sell, regardless of whether those goods originated somewhere else. Hopefully, this will also make Amazon more mindful of the types of products they put on their platform, be more receptive to reports of potentially dangerous products, and act quickly to halt the sales of defective products.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a product you purchased on Amazon, please contact an experienced product defect lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.