Hello and thank you for requesting me. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.
I am sorry to hear about your situation. First of all, you may not simply be able to sue Amazon outright. Any user of their site (buyer or seller) is automatically bound to an arbitration
clause. See here:blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2015/12/court-enforces-arbitration-clause-in-amazons-terms-of-service-fagerstrom-v-amazon.htm
However, another court has found the arbitration clause to be unsconsionable and has thrown it out, allowing a suit:www.law360.com/articles/643925/amazon-arbitration-agreement-unconscionable-class-says
Ergo, if you have a claim against Amazon for virtually anything, you may
have to go through the arbitration process.
Arbitration is a type of private hearing where an arbiter (commonly a senior attorney or a retired judge) will hear both sides of the issue and will render a decision which is enforceable in Court. It is very hard to overturn such a decision unless you can show that the arbiter was biased or that the decision would shock the conscience of the court/legal system.
The benefits of arbitration is that it is more private, cheaper than full out litigation
, generally quicker, and easier:www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/arbitration-basics-29947.html
Here is the applicable arbitration clause from Amazon:DISPUTES
Any dispute or claim relating in any way to your use of any Amazon Service, or to any products or services sold or distributed by Amazon or through Amazon.com will be resolved by binding arbitration, rather than in court, except that you may assert claims in small claims court if your claims qualify. The Federal Arbitration Act and federal arbitration law apply to this agreement.
There is no judge or jury in arbitration, and court review of an arbitration award is limited. However, an arbitrator can award on an individual basis the same damages and relief as a court (including injunctive and declaratory relief or statutory damages), and must follow the terms of these Conditions of Use as a court would.
To begin an arbitration proceeding, you must send a letter requesting arbitration and describing your claim to our registered agent Corporation Service Company,*****SW, Suite 304, Tumwater, WA 98501. The arbitration will be conducted by the American Arbitration Association (AAA) under its rules, including the AAA's Supplementary Procedures for Consumer-Related Disputes. The AAA's rules are available at www.adr.org or by calling 1-***-***-****. Payment of all filing, administration and arbitrator fees will be governed by the AAA's rules. We will reimburse those fees for claims totaling less than $10,000 unless the arbitrator determines the claims are frivolous. Likewise, Amazon will not seek attorneys' fees and costs in arbitration unless the arbitrator determines the claims are frivolous. You may choose to have the arbitration conducted by telephone, based on written submissions, or in person in the county where you live or at another mutually agreed location.
We each agree that any dispute resolution proceedings will be conducted only on an individual basis and not in a class, consolidated or representative action. If for any reason a claim proceeds in court rather than in arbitration we each waive any right to a jury trial. We also both agree that you or we may bring suit in court to enjoin infringement or other misuse of intellectual property rights.
By using any Amazon Service, you agree that the Federal Arbitration Act, applicable federal law, and the laws of the state of Washington, without regard to principles of conflict of laws, will govern these Conditions of Use and any dispute of any sort that might arise between you and Amazon.
The way to get around arbitration is to file in small claims court. In WA, there is a $5,000 limit. You cannot sue for punitive damages
. In CA, there is a $10,000 limit. You also cannot sue for punitive damages. If this is acceptable, you can file in small claims court in either
state because the jurisdiction overlaps both CA and WA, and it is the Plaintiff's choice. It is more practical for you to file in WA because this makes it less practical for Amazon, as opposed to filing in CA, which would be vice versa.
Links to small claims info in WA:www.washingtonlawhelp.org/files/C9D2EA3F-0350-D9AF-ACAE-BF37E9BC9FFA/attachments/39285D5E-B302-1D9D-41E3-E3BF638D39B7/9940en.pdf
To sue in a state court, one needs to have a "cause of action." There are numerous causes of action, such as "breach of contract
," "negligence," "fraud," "unjust enrichment," etc., as well as causes of action rooted in statutory law. Every state has their own although they are very similar to each other in every state because they all stem from the same common law. A pleading in Court needs at least one cause of action, although it is not unusual to have more than one. For what you have described, someone in your situation can attempt to sue possibly for NEGLIGENCE. The essential elements of actionable negligence are: (1) the existence of a duty owed to the complaining party; (2) a breach thereof; (3) a resulting injury; and (4) a proximate cause between the claimed breach and resulting injury. Hansen v. Washington Natural Gas Co., 95 Wn.2d 773, 776, 632 P.2d 504 (1981).
Alternatively, you can try arbitration. See the bolded clause above from their site which gives instructions on how to file for it.
I hope this helps and clarifies. Please use the SEND or REPLY button to keep chatting, or please RATE when finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating. Kindly rate my answer as one of TOP THREE FACES/STARS and then SUBMIT, as this is how experts get credit for our time. Rating my answer the bottom two faces/stars (or failing to submit the rating) does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith with a positive rating.