Product Liability

Judge Finds Amazon Not Liable For Hoverboard House Fire

hoverboard burned CPSC image 308x210 Judge Finds Amazon Not Liable For Hoverboard House FireA Georgia man who was severely burned and lost his home to a fire triggered by a Chinese-made hoverboard had his lawsuit against Amazon and several other companies dismissed by a federal judge, who said the plaintiff failed to provide sufficient evidence that Amazon knew the device it sold was unsafe.

Chief Judge Thomas Thrash Jr. of the Northern District of Georgia responded favorably to Amazon’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit – a decision that lawyers for plaintiff Irvin Love Jr. said came before any factual discovery could be conducted into what and when Amazon knew about the defective hoverboard sold on its website.

According to the Daily Report, Mr. Love filed the lawsuit after the hoverboard he bought as a Christmas present for his girlfriend’s daughter in 2015 malfunctioned less than a couple months later when it wasn’t plugged in. The hoverboard’s lithium-ion battery exploded and set the house on fire.

Mr. Irwin was severely burned and suffered from smoke inhalation as he escaped the burning house with his girlfriend. He was taken to Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah for immediate treatment before being transferred to Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta. His burn injuries required grafts of cadaver skin.

Additionally, Mr. Love’s house was completely burned, and he lost personal property valued at more than $50,000.

Amazon and several of its entities were named as defendants along with Weecoo and Shenzen — the Chinese hoverboard and lithium-ion battery manufacturers, and several other Chinese units. Chinese companies usually ignore U.S. litigation and judgments.

When Chinese manufacturers and other foreign companies won’t be held accountable for the safety of their products in the U.S., it’s important that the U.S. distributors and retailers of those products remain liable.

Mr. Irwin’s complaint included claims of liability, negligence, fraudulent concealment of defect, failure to warn, and breach of warranty. His lawsuit claims that Amazon was on notice that hoverboards and lithium-ion batteries it sold through its website had been linked to at least nine fires and serious injuries.

According to the Daily Report, Judge Thrash wrote that “The Plaintiff goes into detail about the defects that plagued ‘nearly all’ hoverboards sold on defendant Amazon’s website during the relevant time period” and that “Amazon ‘knew’ that the hoverboards being sold on its website were poorly manufactured and were likely to cause fires.

“But the plaintiff must do more than assert, in conclusory fashion, that the defendant knew about the product’s defects,” Judge Thrash added.