la corte di appello della california affronta la ormai nota questione del se Amazon (A.) sia responsabile per i danni provocati da prodotti venduti da terzi tramite il suo marketplace: C. of Appeal of California, Loomis c. Amazon.com LL.CC., 26.04.0221 , n° B297995.
Si era trattato di uno hoover che, messo in carica, aveva preso fuoco e rischiato di incendiare l’abitazione,p. 2-3.
A p. 3 segg. sono indicati i tipi di vendita tramite A. , tra cui il <Fullfilment by Amazon – FBA> (con stoccaggio), ma non usato nel caso de quo.
A p. 5 ss i dati di vendita di hoover via A. (in totale più di 380.000 nel 2015). Proprio nel periodo di acquisto de quo , A. aveva rilevato rischi di difetto sugli hoover e aveva tentato di richiamarli.
A p. 10 ss la teria della strict liability che coinvolge qualunque impresa della catena di produzione e marketing.: <<Under the marketing enterprise theory or stream of commerce approach, the plaintiff must show: “(1) the defendant received a direct financial benefit from its activities and from the sale of the product; (2) the defendant’s role was integral to the business enterprise such that the defendant’s conduct was a necessary factor in bringing the product to the initial consumer market; and (3) the defendant had control over, or a substantial ability to influence, the manufacturing or distribution process.” (Id. at p.776; Kasel v. Remington Arms Co. (1972) 24 Cal.App.3d 711 (Kasel).)>>, p. 12
A p. 12 è anche esamianto il precedente Bolger v. Amazon, pure sfavorevole ad A.
Il succo è al § D.1, p. 16 ss: <<Contrary to Amazon’s assertion that it merely provided an online storefront for TurnUpUp and others to sell their wares, it is undisputed Amazon placed itself squarely between TurnUpUp, the seller, and Loomis, the buyer, in the transaction at issue. When Loomis wanted to buy a hoverboard for her son, she perused product listings on Amazon’s website. Amazon took Loomis’s order and processed her payment. It then transmitted the order to TurnUpUp, who packaged and shipped the product to Loomis.
When Loomis wondered whether the hoverboard would arrive in time for Christmas, she communicated her concerns through Amazon. TurnUpUp was not allowed to communicate with Loomis directly. If Loomis had wanted to return the hoverboard, the return would have been routed through Amazon.
Amazon remitted Loomis’s payment to TurnUpUp after deducting its fees, including a 15 percent referral fee based on the total sale price. These facts undermine Amazon’s characterization of its marketplace as an online mall providing online storefronts for sellers. Owners of malls typically do not serve as conduits for payment and communication in each transaction between a buyer and a seller. Moreover, they do not typically charge a per-item fee rather than a fixed amount to rent their storefronts. Instead, these actions – 1) interacting with the customer, 2) taking the order, 3) processing the order to the third party seller, 4) collecting the money, and 5) being paid a percentage of the sale – are consistent with a retailer or a distributor of consumer goods>>.
Non adattandosi bene l’e-commerce alla dottrina tradizinale, la corte invoca la c.d. stream of commerce approach or market enterprise theory per la strict liability: <<“[U]nder the stream-of-commerce approach to strict liability no precise legal relationship to the member of the enterprise causing the defect to be manufactured or to the member most closely connected with the customer is required before the courts will impose strict liability. It is the defendant’s participatory connection, for his personal profit or other benefit, with the injury-producing product and with the enterprise that created consumer demand for and reliance upon the product (and not the defendant’s legal relationship (such as agency) with the manufacturer or other entities involved in the manufacturing-marketing system) which calls for imposition of strict liability. [Citation.]” (Kasel , supra, 24 Cal.App.3d at p. 725.) Thus, a defendant may be strictly liable under the stream of commerce approach if: “(1) the defendant received a direct financial benefit from its activities and from the sale of the product; (2) the defendant’s role was integral to the business enterprise such that the defendant’s conduct was a necessary factor in bringing the product to the initial consumer market; and (3) the defendant had control over, or a substantial ability to influence, the manufacturing or distribution process.” (Bay Summit, supra, 51 Cal.App.4th at p. 778.)>>
Si notino i tre requisiti, di seguito (p. 18 ss) analizzati e ravvisati nel caso de quo.
Nauturalmente anche la difesa per cui a. è un mero service provider, a questo punto, non vale, p. 20 ss
Da ultimo sono interessanti le ragioni di policy enunciate : <<As noted earlier in this opinion, the relevant public policy considerations are: (1) whether Amazon may play a substantial part in insuring that the product is safe or may be in a position to exert pressure on the manufacturer to that end, (2) whether Amazon may be the only member in the distribution chain reasonably available to the injured plaintiff, and (3) whether Amazon is in a position to adjust the costs of compensating the injured plaintiff amongst various members in the distribution chain. (Vandermark, supra, 61 Cal.2d at pp. 262-263.)>>. Vengono analizzate partitatmente e ritenuti applicabili al caso sub iudice, tali da portare al giudizio sfavorevole ad A., p. 24 ss
Esito non diverso per l’azione di negligence generale, p.28/9
E’ infine assai interessante la lunga concurring opinion del giudice Wiley, allegata. Oltre a trovare ammissione (confessione) di A. secondo cui può influire e controllare i prodotti sicchè ne ha strict liability, p. 4, vale la pena di leggere le considerazioni sulla cost-benefit analysis nella tort law: sia in generale 4 ss., che in alcuni precedenti giudiziari, 8 ss .
Egli conclude così: <<In a nutshell, plaintiff Wilkinson proposed requiring secondhand dealers to take expensive safety measures: dismantling, inspecting, repairing, and granting a mandatory warranty. The court, quite reasonably, was not convinced these steps were cost-effective in light of the existing strict liability duties on the original manufacturer and its original distribution network. Wilkinson’s proposed safety measures were too expensive and ineffective to be socially desirable. So Hicks owed no strict liability duty to Wilkinson. (Accord, Brejcha v. Wilson Machinery, Inc. (1984) 160 Cal.App.3d 630; Tauber–Arons Auctioneers Co. v. Superior Court (1980) 101 Cal.App.3d 268.). In contrast, the measures Amazon can take to minimize the cost of accidents are cost-effective and socially efficient ….. Amazon’s citations thus offer it no support. All involve defendants who, unlike Amazon, had no cost-effective way to reduce the costs of accidents. This case is easy. Amazon is well situated to take cost-effective measures to minimize the social costs of accidents. Strict liability will prompt this beneficial conduct. Loomis wins this appeal. The case will return to the trial court for resolution of issues the appeal has not addressed.>>, p. 20 e 22