Gentry v. eBay, Inc.

121 Cal. Rptr. 2d 703 (2002)

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Gentry v. eBay, Inc.

California Court of Appeal
121 Cal. Rptr. 2d 703 (2002)

Facts

eBay, Inc. (defendant) was an online marketplace through which users sold items directly to other users. eBay provided a safety program based on information about sellers that it compiled from reviews by eBay users. For example, eBay’s feedback forum allowed users to post ratings or comments about sellers and eBay designated certain sellers as so-called power sellers based on positive user-provided information. Per eBay, a positive rating on the platform was “worth its weight in gold.” Angelo Marino and others (collectively, sellers) (defendants) sold sports-related items with fake signatures by athletes (forged items) via eBay. Lars Gentry and other purchasers of forged items on eBay (collectively, purchasers) (plaintiffs) sued eBay and the sellers. With respect to eBay, the purchasers alleged, among other things, that eBay was a collectibles dealer under California’s Autographed Sports Memorabilia Statute (ASMS) and thus was required to—but did not—provide the purchasers with warranties for memorabilia purchases made on eBay. The purchasers further claimed eBay was negligent because (1) the safety program did not reveal the sellers’ misconduct, (2) eBay knew or should have known about the sellers’ misconduct but did not edit or delete their listings, and (3) eBay’s statement that a positive review was worth its weight in gold was a negligent misrepresentation. eBay moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing, among other things, that the purchasers’ claims were preempted by § 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, a federal statute that immunized providers of interactive computer services (service providers) from liability as the publisher or speaker (publisher) of information provided by another content provider. The district court dismissed the complaint. The purchasers appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (O’Rourke, J.)

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