Montreal

Quebec Court of Appeal sides with eBay in case of $98K running shoes

Quebec's Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of the online auction site eBay after it cancelled the sale of a pair of running shoes that stood to earn a pair of Montreal brothers $98,000.

Online auction site appealed lower court ruling that awarded Montreal brothers $86,700 for cancelled sale

The lawsuit centred around a pair of rare Nike shoes released in 2012 — the Air Foamposite Galaxy 1's.

Quebec's Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of the online auction site eBay after it cancelled the sale of a pair of running shoes that stood to earn a pair of Montreal brothers $98,000.

In 2016, a lower court judge ruled eBay cancelled the sale unfairly.

She awarded the brothers, Kevin and Thierry Mofo Moko, $86,700 in damages. 

EBay appealed, and in a decision released last Friday, Quebec's Court of Appeal ruled the auction site was justified in cancelling the sale in order to protect the security of its customers.

The $98K shoes

The sale dates back to 2012, when shoemaker Nike released with great fanfare a shoe called the Air Foamposite Galaxy 1 to coincide with the NBA all-star game.

The limited edition shoes were in high demand and prompted frenzied lineups at shoe stores across North America on the day of their release, Feb. 24, 2012.

Montreal DJ and shoe collector Toddy Flores told CBC the Nike Air Foamposite 1 was a unique show, but the $98,000 bid for one pair was 'abnormal.' (Facebook)

On Feb. 21, Kevin and Thierry Mofo Moko advertised a pair of the shoes for sale on eBay, though they didn't yet have the shoes in hand.

The next day, Thierry lined up at a Montreal shoe store and waited 30 hours to purchase a pair of the shoes for $280 plus tax.

When he got home, Mofo Moko was shocked to see the bids for the shoes he'd posted had reached $50,000 and climbing, maxing out with a bid of $98,000 just two hours before the sale was due to end on Feb. 24.

That's when eBay pulled the plug.

EBay suspected sale was fraudulent

In court documents, eBay explained that it stopped the sale because it had reasonable suspicion to believe it may have been a fraud.

It noted that it was the first time the Mofo Moko brothers had ever sold anything on its site, so it had no sales history to verify their reliability.

EBay also noted the duration of the sale — three days — was the minimum allowed by the site and the most common duration for fraudulent sales.

It also noted the photo accompanying the sale was generic, suggesting the seller may not be in possession of the actual shoes.

And it noted that the $98,000 bid on the Mofo Moko's pair of shoes was wildly out of step with other bids for other pairs of Air Foamposite Galaxy 1's on the site at the time, which ranged from $755 to $2000.

Even though eBay had no direct evidence the sale was fraudulent, the Court of Appeal ruled that based on these factors, the auction site was justified in halting the sale.

It said eBay was not acting unreasonably or abusively towards the Mofo Mokos, but simply trying to protect its users against fraud and abuse.

Ultimately, after making some verifications, eBay allowed the Mofo Mokos to repost the shoes for sale.

By that time, it seemed, the frenzy had passed.

The Mofo Mokos withdrew their sale after attaining a maximum bid of just $1,900 in their second attempt to sell the shoes.

They launched their lawsuit against eBay a few months later.

Shoes were unique, but not that unique: expert

Toddy Flores, a Montreal DJ and avid shoe collector who calls himself a "sneakerhead" and once owned 2,000 pairs of shoes himself, has followed the case.

Flores said Nike released very few pairs the Foamposite Galaxy 1s, and their distinctive appearance made them highly sought after.

"It had that Milky Way star pattern on it, more like a solar system.  It was the first time a print like that was put on shoes," Flores said. 

But Flores said the $98,000 bid on the shoes always seemed odd to him.

"That was very abnormal, something I had never seen before," Flores said.  He said around the time of their release, a pair of Foamposite Galaxy 1's could be had for $2,000 or less.

He said he's seen rare running shoes sell for as much as $20,000, but never anything approaching $100,000.

Lawyers for eBay and for the Mofo Mokos could not be reached for comment.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Rukavina

Journalist

Steve Rukavina has been with CBC News in Montreal since 2002. In 2019, he won a RTDNA award for continuing coverage of sexual misconduct allegations at Concordia University. He's also a co-creator of the podcast, Montreapolis. Before working in Montreal he worked as a reporter for CBC in Regina and Saskatoon. You can reach him at stephen.j.rukavina@cbc.ca.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now