The opinion of the court was delivered by: Andrew J. Guilford United States District Judge
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
This case involves a claim for fraud under California's Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"). Defendant Amazon.com, Inc. ("Defendant") filed a Motion for Summary Judgment ("Motion"). The Court GRANTS the Motion.
Defendant runs an online platform called "Amazon Marketplace," where sellers sell products to buyers. (Defendant's Stipulated Facts Relating to Amazon.com, Inc's Motion for Summary Judgment ("DSF") ¶ 2.) When a customer purchases an item on Amazon Marketplace, Defendant processes the order, but an independent seller delivers the goods directly to the buyer. (Jacobson Depo. 26:8-11.)
Plaintiff Alen Baghdasarian ("Plaintiff") purchased eight books from independent sellers on Amazon Marketplace. (Plaintiff's Statement of Uncontroverted Facts ("PSUF") ¶ 1.) Before he made his first purchase, Plaintiff reviewed information on Defendant's website about how shipping and handling rates were calculated. (PSUF ¶ 3.) This information states:
Amazon.com charges Marketplace buyers a flat rate for shipping, and funds are passed to the seller to offset the costs of packaging and labor, as well as the postage required. The credit given to a seller will usually closely match what the seller pays to ship the item, using the option you have chosen (Standard or Expedited). However, there may be times when the credit a seller is given for a Marketplace order will be above and beyond what is actually paid for postage. Shipping costs are an inherent feature in any mail-order service, and we hope that you will understand.
Plaintiff has produced evidence that, without Plaintiffs' knowledge, Defendant charged a higher shipping and handling rate than the estimated cost of shipping and handling. (Plaintiff's Genuine Issues of Material Fact ("PGI") ¶ 11.) Defendant collected the shipping and handling charge directly from the buyer's payment. (PGI ¶ 13.) Defendant then retained any amount of the shipping and handling rate that exceeded the actual cost, but did not tell buyers that it was doing so. (PGI ¶ 12.) This is known as a "holdback fee."
Based on these facts, Plaintiff sued Defendant for violation of the fraud prong of the UCL. Defendant filed this Motion, arguing that Plaintiff has not provided sufficient evidence to support a UCL claim. The Court now considers whether Plaintiff's claim can survive summary judgment.
The parties assert multiple evidentiary objections to evidence submitted by their opponent. Of the evidence under objection, the Court relied only on one portion of the Baghdasarian Declaration. The Court will discuss that portion now, and all remaining objections are OVERRULED as moot.
In the Baghdasarian Declaration, Plaintiff states that, "[i]n agreeing to pay shipping and handling fees in connection with my purchases on the Amazon Marketplace, I believed and relied on the fact that the shipping and handling fee would be passed on in full to the marketplace seller in order to offset the seller's cost of shipping and handling." (Baghdasarian Decl. ¶ 2.) Defendant objects to this statement and argues that it "is inconsistent with Plaintiff's deposition testimony where he stated the reasons why he chose to purchase books on the Marketplace rather than from another source, and therefore is inadmissible." (Defendant's Objections ¶ 2.) This objection is OVERRULED.
The Baghdasarian Declaration is not inconsistent with Plaintiff's deposition. In his deposition, Plaintiff was asked, "how did you make the decision to actually buy [an item] from the Amazon.com Marketplace?" (Baghdasarian Depo. 29:12-15.) Plaintiff answered that "price," "cost and security" were the reasons he bought products on Amazon Marketplace. (Baghdasarian Depo. 29:16-20.) Under Defendant's reasoning, since price, cost, and security were Plaintiff's stated reasons for buying products on Amazon Marketplace, Plaintiff could not have also believed and "relied on the fact" that the shipping and handling fee would be fully passed on to the seller. Defendant's position is unpersuasive, and the Court finds that Plaintiff's Declaration is not inconsistent with his deposition testimony.
Summary judgment is appropriate only where the record, read in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, indicates that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). Material facts are those necessary to the proof or defense of a claim, as determined by reference to substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A factual issue is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. In ...