The latest lawsuit sparked by hoverboard scooters was filed in June, 2017 by a California family who is suing Amazon after the device caught fire, not only burning down their home but killing their two beloved dogs.
The family alleges the blaze was due to the substandard quality lithium ion batteries in the product, sold by Amazon.
Good quality devices have sophisticated circuitry that prevent the batteries from overheating, reducing the likelihood of a fire. However, poorly manufactured, unbranded units, often made in China, don’t contain these safety measures.
The devices range in price from $200 to $2,000.
The latest hoverboard fire is one of 40 in 19 states that are being investigated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission since hoverboard scooters became the must-have toy of Christmas, 2015.
The latest fire broke out at the family’s home in Santa Rosa, CA, while the device was being charged.
The plaintiff, David Carpenter, was out of his house at the time, driving his daughter home from soccer practice.
Firefighters arriving on the scene found the dogs had died from smoke inhalation. They furiously tried to resuscitate them with oxygen, to no avail.
Selling Bombs to Kids
Santa Rosa Fire Battalion Chief Mark Basque estimates the blaze caused $200,000 to $250,000 in damage to the Carpenter’s home.
Carpenter is reported as saying, “It’s like selling kids bombs.”
Dogs aren’t the only ones dying from the scooters. Human beings are dying, too.
A fire in March claimed the lives of two children. Ten-year-old Savannah Dominick died with burns to 95 percent of her body, and another victim, 3-year old Ashanti Hughs, died the night of the fire.
A third victim jumped from a second-floor porch to escape the blaze and two others were rescued by firefighters.
On December 27, 2016, a hoverboard was the cause of a Christmas night fire in New Haven, CT, that injured four people and sent one to the hospital.
On November 2, 2016, a family from Nashville filed a product liability lawsuit against Amazon after their million-dollar home was destroyed by a fire allegedly caused by faulty lithium-ion batteries inside a hoverboard they bought on the site.
Two of the family’s children were at home at the time of the fire and escaped by breaking windows and jumping from the second floor. The home and most of the family’s personal property were engulfed in flames, according to the lawsuit.
Amazon Still Selling
After the deaths of the children, Amazon stopped selling several brands of the scooter.
However, the company “that sells everything” is still selling hoverboards on its site, including a model from Swagway, listed as one of the 13 companies whose products is being investigated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Class Action Suit Filed in Indiana
One class action complaint was filed in Federal court in the Northern District of Indiana in December, 2015 against a hoverboard manufacturer and the retailer of the product.
The suit alleges breach of implied warranty, unfair and deceptive trade practices under state law and unjust enrichment and seeks both compensatory and punitive damages.
The complaint calls the hoverboard unsafe as it is “defective and presents a material likelihood it will self-combust, or short-circuit while charging, leading to the fire and/or other damage.”
Consumers are advised to check the manufactures’ names and contact details before using the scooters.
In July, 2016, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall for more than 500,000 hoverboards from 10 different companies.
Products affected by the recall include:
- Swagway X1 Model
- Razor Hovertrax
- Airwalk Self Balancing Electric Scooter
- Hype Roam
- Back to the Future
- Mobile Tech
The Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman, Elliot F. Kaye, says the agency will establish the cause of the fires.
“At CPSC, our investigators and engineers continue to work diligently to find the root cause of the hoverboard fires that have occurred throughout the country.
“CPSC staff is focusing on the components of the lithium-ion battery packs as well as their interaction with the circuit boards inside the units,” Kaye said in a statement.