American online auction company eBay is headquartered in San Jose, Calif. Two brothers in Montreal, Que. won an appeal to sue the company for what they say was a wrongful termination of an auction that had gone up to nearly $100,000 in the bidding process. Ben Margot/AP
Quebec's appeal court has ruled in favour of two brothers who were trying to sue eBay for stopping their auction of a pair of rare basketball shoes they maintain would have fetched them a tidy sum.
Brothers Kevin and Thierry Mofo Moko claim they lost big when eBay Canada cancelled an auction of a pair of rare Nike shoes the brothers had obtained and were trying to sell.
A Quebec Court of Appeal ruling dated Friday found in their favour and the brothers' lawyer hopes it paves the way for the case to be heard fully.
The shoes in question are a pair of Nike Foamposite One Galaxy running shoes which they bought in February 2012 for $316, including taxes.
The shoes were purchased at a store in Montreal and are one of an unknown number produced and sold in a handful of locations. The shoe was created to mark the 2012 National Basketball Association's all-star game.
The brothers have said bidding on the shoes was up to $96,750 when the online giant decided to pull the plug just hours into the auction. They argue they would never be able to fetch that amount now.
It was the first time they'd used the online auction company.
When the brothers signed up for the account, they didn't have the shoes, which they snagged three days later. Bidding started at $750 and quickly spiked to $50,000. One possible buyer later offered $80,000.
The case has been tied up in legal wrangling for more than a year. Lawyers representing eBay have been trying to get out of being sued in Montreal because they are based in California and believe the legal action should be taken in that jurisdiction.
But Quebec's Court of Appeal agreed with a lower court ruling. In March, Quebec Superior Court rejected an initial attempt to have the case tossed.
The brothers are considered consumers in Quebec and as such, are protected under the province's Civil Code.
"The conclusion of the trial judge that they are consumers is well-founded," the appeal court ruling reads.
Lawyers for eBay had argued the brothers do not benefit from that protection because they are akin to merchants. They also argued that a clause in the terms of agreement that users must accept when they join eBay clearly states any action against the company must take place in California.
"But our opinion, and the Court of Appeal supported us, is that our clients are consumers and they have a protection in the Civil Code of Quebec," said Bruno Sasson, a lawyer representing the brothers.
Stikeman Elliott, which represents eBay, said through a spokesperson they could not comment as they had not discussed the matter with their clients.
It's unclear whether they'll appeal any further.
But Sasson declared it a win for Quebecers.
"It's a big victory for consumers in Quebec because they won't have to go across borders to sue big companies with no funds," Sasson said.
Sasson said it's unclear when the actual case involving the shoes will actually go before a judge.
"(So far) it's more a question of laws than facts, but the actual case hasn't gotten far," Sasson said.
He estimates it might take a year or two for the case to be heard on its merits.
Meanwhile, the shoes in question are safely stowed at a Montreal law office.