The Justice Department Is Suing eBay, Alleging Unlawful Sales of Over 371,000 Products The lawsuit alleges that eBay violated several environmental laws.

By Madeline Garfinkle

Key Takeaways

  • The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against e-commerce marketplace, eBay, accusing the company of violating three environmental laws.
  • In a statement, eBay called the lawsuit "entirely unprecedented," and that the company will "vigorously defend itself."

On Wednesday, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against e-commerce marketplace, eBay, accusing the company of "unlawfully selling and distributing" over 371,000 products that violate three environmental laws.

"Laws that prohibit selling products that can severely harm human health and the environment apply to e-commerce retailers like eBay just as they do to brick-and-mortar stores," Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division, said in the release. "We are committed to preventing the unlawful sale and distribution of emissions-defeating devices and dangerous chemicals that, if used improperly, can lead to dire consequences for individuals and communities."

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, alleges that eBay engaged in the sale, promotion, or facilitation of over 343,000 aftermarket defeat devices, which disable motor vehicle emission controls and elevate emissions, including harmful substances such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, thus violating the Clean Air Act (CAA).

Related: U.S. Government and 17 States Sue Amazon Over Alleged Anticompetitive Practices That Led to Higher Prices for Consumers

The complaint also alleges that eBay violated the Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) by improperly distributing or selling at least 23,000 "unregistered, misbranded, or restricted-use" pesticide products — pesticides that are not available for purchase by the general public, as prohibited by the EPA.

Finally, the complaint contends that eBay violated the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by distributing more than 5,600 items in breach of the TSCA Methylene Chloride Rule, by selling products that contain methylene chloride in paint and coating removal products, which impose "unreasonable risks" associated with the products, including fatalities.

In a statement, eBay called the lawsuit "entirely unprecedented," and that the company will "vigorously defend itself."

"We dedicate significant resources, implement state-of-the-art technology and ensure our teams are properly trained to prevent prohibited items from being listed on the marketplace," the company added.

The complaint is seeking a halt of eBay's practices that broke the CAA, FIFRA, and TSCA laws, as well as calling on eBay to pay civil penalties for CAA violations, which could amount to billions with a penalty of $5,580 for each violation, per Reuters.

Madeline Garfinkle

Entrepreneur Staff

News Writer

Madeline Garfinkle is a News Writer at She is a graduate from Syracuse University, and received an MFA from Columbia University. 

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