Alibaba sued in US over man's death from fire caused by printer

Calvin Yu bought the printer in November 2019 from Alibaba's US portal AliExpress and used the printer as intended. PHOTO: AFP

SAN FRANCISCO (BLOOMBERG) - Alibaba Group was sued by the parents of a San Francisco man who died when a 3D printer he bought from the retailer's US portal caught fire in 2020.

Calvin Yu's parents fault the giant online retailer for selling a printer that they said it knew, or should have known, was defective. They also sued the makers of the printer, the Chinese electronic firm Tronxy Technology.

Customers are increasingly attempting to hold online marketplaces responsible for the goods sold through their sites, even by third-party sellers. Inc. has faced dozens of product-liability claims in recent years from people harmed by products sold through its site.

Amazon instituted a new policy in September, saying it would pay shoppers for injury or property claims of less than US$1,000 (S$1,370), and in some cases more than that, even as it argued in court that's it's not liable.

Yu bought the printer in November 2019 from Alibaba's US portal, AliExpress, the parents said in the lawsuit, filed on Tuesday (June 7) in state court in San Francisco. He used the printer as intended at home, they said.

Fire investigators "concluded that the fire was caused by the above-mentioned 3D printer, overheating and igniting the couch," the parents said. Yu was found dead in the apartment.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.