Alibaba Group Holding is being sued by the parents of a San Francisco man who died when a 3D printer he bought on the retailer’s US portal caught fire in 2020. Calvin Yu’s parents blame the giant for selling a printer that he knew, or should have known, was defective. They also sued the makers of the printer, Chinese electronics company Tronxy Technology Co. More and more customers are trying to hold online marketplaces responsible for products sold on their sites, even by third-party sellers. In recent years, Amazon has faced dozens of product liability claims from people harmed by products sold on its site.
Alibaba is being sued in the United States by the parents of a man, who bought a 3D printer from the Chinese e-commerce giant, and died in an accident after the device allegedly malfunctioned and caught fire. Hoi Kwong Yu and Janice Yu, parents of Calvin Yu, claim that their son purchased a faulty Tronxy X5SA 24V 3D printer from Alibaba’s AliExpress.com website around November 9, 2019. Disaster struck six months later, on June 11, 2020. The device was plugged into a power strip and overheated, causing a fire at Calvin’s home, court documents filed with San Francisco Superior Court on Tuesday said. He died a day later.
The San Francisco Fire Department investigation team concluded that the fire was caused by the 3D printer, which overheated and ignited the sofa Calvin Yu was found in the apartment, he died later complications from thermal damage caused by the faulty printer, the parents said.
Now, Calvin’s parents are suing Alibaba as well as the printer’s third-party manufacturer, Shenzhen Tronxy Technology, for product liability and negligence. Defendants had a duty to warn the late Calvin Yu of the defects and dangers associated with the use of the Tronxy X5SA 24V 3D Printer of which they were aware, or should have been aware by exercising normal care, when the printer left the defendants’ control, they said.
Defendants, and each of them, knew that the Tronxy X5SA 24V 3D Printer sold and shipped by Calvin Yu would be used without defect inspection by ordinary consumers like Calvin Yu, now deceased, and stated that the device could be used safely and would be fit for the ordinary purpose for which it was purchased, the complaint states.
Calvin’s parents blamed Alibaba and others, saying he suffered pain, emotional distress, despair and humiliation moments before the disaster. They believe that as successors in interest to Calvin’s estate, Alibaba and Shenzhen Tronxy Technology should pay damages.
For the moment, the amount of damages has not yet been specified and has yet to be proven by the plaintiff’s legal team. Amazon rolled out a new policy in September, saying it would pay buyers for bodily injury or property damage under $1,000, and in some cases more than that, even though it argued in court that she is not responsible.
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