La corte suprema del Texas , 25.06.2021, n° 20-0979 , Amazon c. Mc Millan, nega la qualificabilità di Amazon e dei titolari di marketplace come produttori (anzi, seller) ai fini della legislazione sulla responsabilità da prodotto difettoso.
Così sintetizza la questione: <<Texas law imposes strict liability on manufacturers and some sellers of defective products. In the first few decades after we recognized common–law strict products liability, the people and entities held liable were typically part of a conventional distribution chain: upstream manufacturers, mid–stream distributors, and downstream retailers.1Today, third–party e–commerce platforms—such as Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and Alibaba—provide many of the services traditionally performed by distributors and retailers, enabling merchants from all over the world to reach consumers directly. But are such online marketplaces strictly liable for defective products manufactured and owned by third parties? The Fifth Circuit asks whether Amazon.com is a “seller” under Texas law when it does not hold title to third–party products sold on its website but controls the process of the transaction and delivery>>.
Riposta: <<We answer no. The Legislature’s definition of “seller” in Chapter 82 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code is consistent with and does not expand the common–law definition. Under that definition, when the ultimate consumer obtains a defective product through an ordinary sale, the potentially liable sellers are limited to those who relinquished title to the product at some point in the distribution chain. Therefore, Amazon is not a “seller” of third–party products under Texas law>>
In particolare: <<Although the extent of seller liability is different under the common law and Chapter 82, the definition of who constitutes a seller is similar. The statute defines a seller as “a person who is engaged in the business of distributing or otherwise placing, for any commercial purpose, in the stream of commerce for use or consumption a product or any component part thereof.” Id. §82.001(3). To decide whether Amazon is a seller under Chapter 82, we must determine whether Amazon’s role in the distribution chain amounts to “distributing or otherwise placing” a product in the stream of commerce.>>
In breve Amazon non è <seller>.
Nel caso specifico il terzo aveva usato il servizio completo logistico <Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)>
Il fatto dannoso era questo: il figlio di due anni dell’acquirente aveva ingoiato una batteria del remote control acquistato dal padre. Nonostante l’estrazione cbnirurgica dell’oggetto, i liquidi della batteria avevano causato danno permamente all’esofago del bimbo.
La quetione però è aperta, essendoci stata una dissenziente opinione di minoranza: <<Applying the statute’s definition and the common, ordinary meaning of its language when the statute was enacted, I would answer the Fifth Circuit’s certified question by holding that Amazon.com is a seller under section 82.001(3) when it “controls the process of the transaction and delivery” of a product through its FBA program, regardless of whether it ever holds title to the product. Because the Court holds otherwise, I respectfully dissent>>.
Sul punto ci sono già diverse pronunce negli USA: vedremo nel diritto UE, ove al momento il tema non gode di particolare attenzione.
(notizie e link alla sentenza dal blog di Eric Goldman)