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The United States Law Week

Amazon Beats State Farm in Hoverboard Battery Fire Suit

Sept. 30, 2019, 1:36 PM

Amazon.com isn’t liable under Arizona law for a house fire that started when the batteries in two hoverboards purchased online burst into flames while charging, the District of Arizona said.

Amazon didn’t participate significantly in the stream of commerce that delivered the hoverboards to the consumer, the opinion by Judge James A. Teilborg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona said.

Along with allowing third-party vendors to list their products on its website, Amazon offers a “Fulfillment by Amazon” service. Under FBA, vendors ship their pre-packaged products to an Amazon fulfillment center for storage until ordered by a customer and shipped by Amazon.

Abdul Albaloushi ordered two hoverboards made by Super Engine from Amazon’s website. Albaloushi sold them to Mohamed Zeitoun.

While Zeitoun was charging the hoverboards, their batteries burst into flames and significantly damaged his house. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. paid for the damage, but then sued Amazon for strict liability under Arizona law.

Despite bearing some responsibility for third-party vendors’ products during transit, Amazon provides no warranty for them, doesn’t have a meaningful ability to inspect them for defects, doesn’t take title to them, derives only slight economic benefit from transactions involving them, exerts only indirect pressure on product design or manufacturing processes, and doesn’t foster significant consumer reliance by facilitating the transactions, the court said Sept. 27, dismissing the suit.

Moulton Law Firm PC represented State Farm. Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP and Perkins Coie LLP represented Amazon.

The case is State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v. Amazon.com Inc., D. Ariz., No. 2:17-cv-01994, 9/27/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bernie Pazanowski in Washington at bpazanowski@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com