It has been nearly a year since the self-balancing scooters known as hoverboards were setting sales charts on fire, but the resulting litigation (from the resulting real-world fires) is just getting started.
Megan Fox purchased what she thought was a FITBURO® F1 with an “original Samsung advanced battery” from a company called “W-Deals” through Amazon’s website on 3 November 2015, according to the complaint.
The hoverboard remained in a closet until Christmas, when it was given to her 14-year-old son.
On 9 January 2016, the toy’s battery apparently exploded – a common occurrence that led to the recall of more than 500,000 hoverboards by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in July.
Two of the family’s children were at home at the time of the fire and had to escape by breaking windows and jumping from the second floor. The million-dollar house and most of the family’s belongings went up in flames.
Amazon is not generally liable for the behavior of third-party merchants who use its platform to sell their products. But according to the lawsuit, “W-Deals” was a “sham entity” selling counterfeit products from China.
The Fox family’s attorney told the Tennessean that they “spent months” trying to track down the actual manufacturer of the faulty hoverboard but came up empty. If no manufacturer can be found, Tennessee product liability law allows a plaintiff to go after the “seller” instead – in this case, the $380bn online retail behemoth.
The suit also alleges that Amazon was negligent in failing to warn customers about safety problems with hoverboards, which it claims should have been known to the company prior to 9 January 2016.
Amazon began pulling some hoverboards from the site in mid-December 2015 over safety concerns.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This article was written by Julia Carrie Wong in San Francisco, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 1st November 2016 20.50 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010