Section 230 Applies to Sellers’ Listings on Auto Auction Service–Cohen v. Copart

Copart runs an auto auction website that includes “repairable” cars, i.e., junkers. The plaintiff sued for three alleged misrepresentations, including:

On vehicle pages, Copart displays an Estimated Retail Value for the vehicle. Plaintiff contends that this number is false and misleading, because it refers to a value based on the vehicle having “clean title,” rather than the salvage title the vehicle has, which reduces the value by 20% to 40%.

Copart responded:

that it provides “a platform for vehicle sellers to process and sell salvage title vehicles” and that all ERVs are provided to Copart by the seller of the vehicle. Copart likewise establishes that the ERV in question was provided by the seller.

The fact that users supply the estimates turns this into an easy Section 230 decision. The workaround fails:

although Plaintiff presents evidence that a valuation of the vehicle in question based on clean title is inherently inaccurate, there is no evidence that Copart requires sellers to provide a valuation based on clean title, and indeed, the evidence is that Copart does not require the valuation information at all.

Thus, “Considering the breadth of the immunity and the paucity of evidence in the record that Copart is anything but a platform relaying the ERV information provided by the seller, the Court must apply Section 230 immunity to the ERV representation.”

Given that the alleged misrepresentations took place in the auction listings, apparently the plaintiff could not take advantage of the HomeAway exceptions for closed auction deals.

Case Citation: Cohen v. Copart, Inc., 2022 Cal. Super. LEXIS 53009 (Cal. Superior Ct. Aug. 25, 2022)