1. TechSpot is dedicated to computer enthusiasts and power users. Ask a question and give support. Join the community here.
    TechSpot is dedicated to computer enthusiasts and power users.
    Ask a question and give support.
    Join the community here, it only takes a minute.
    Dismiss Notice

Judge says Amazon not to blame for exploding hoverboard that burned down $1 million family...

By midian182 · 16 replies
Jun 3, 2018
Post New Reply
  1. Brian and Megan Fox bought the $274.79 FITURBO F1 hoverboard in November 2015 as a Christmas present for their 14-year-old son. On January 9, 2016, the hoverboard exploded while the boy and their daughter were home. The pair were forced to escape through windows with the help of their father. All three suffered injuries, including lacerations that required stitches, fractured bones, and nerve damage. The family's 4000-square-foot home was destroyed.

    It was never clear who manufactured the hoverboard, but the Fox’s launched a $30 million lawsuit against Amazon. They claimed the company never warned them that it could explode, even though Amazon knew about the fire risks. But a Tennessee judge disagreed.

    As noted by CNBC, one Amazon exec deposed in the case admitted to removing a hoverboard from his own home after hearing about their “potential issues.” Amazon also held onto hoverboard sellers’ cash for 90 days instead of 30 as it was getting ready for a deluge of returns, "There's a potential to run off with this money," an employee wrote, in an internal email.

    The couple received an email on December 12, 2015, sent out by Amazon to hoverboard buyers that referenced the "recent news reports of safety issues" and offered “safety tips.” While there was an option to return them for a refund, there was no mention of the words “fire” or “explosion.”

    Judge William Campbell dismissed the case on Wednesday, ruling that Amazon was simply a platform used to sell the product, and not legally responsible for the fire. "Amazon's role in the transaction was to provide a mechanism to facilitate the interchange between the entity seeking to sell the product and the individual who sought to buy it," he wrote

    "We're disappointed in the decision and weighing our options with our clients and should make a decision in the next week or two," Steven Anderson, the Fox’s lawyer, told CNBC.

    An Amazon spokesperson gave the following statement.

    As a customer obsessed company, we closely monitored potential risks with hoverboards since they were first offered for sale, regardless of whether sold directly by Amazon or by sellers on our stores. As the Consumer Product Safety Commission noted at the time, when we learned of safety concerns about this toy, we were the first retailer to proactively stop sales, issue an alert, and refund customers. We continue to invest in our teams and technologies so we can improve our early detection systems and protect customers.

    Permalink to story.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2018
  2. kapital98

    kapital98 TS Guru Posts: 324   +256

    The decision makes sense. Bad for consumers but good for businesses. If lawsuits like this were allowed then the liability of large retailers, especially ones who sell foreign imports, would skyrocket.

    The easy legal solution would have been to sue the manufacturer. But the plaintiff probably saw huge pockets and less legal issues (no international law implications) by suing Amazon.
    Wendig0, ShagnWagn, TheBigT42 and 5 others like this.
  3. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,266   +4,935

    If Amazon can not name their supplier, they should be held responsible. This judge needs to be barred for not doing his job. The judge made it clear this case was between Amazon and the consumer, while not forcing steps to find the guilty party.

    Amazon has information on who is selling products. If Amazon can not identify the person selling, then the product should not be sold through Amazon. What this judge did was allowed Amazon the freedom to continue burning down houses. All under the pretext that Amazon is not liable for products they sell for others.

    If no one is going to be held accountable for products being sold by Amazon, I would think twice before purchasing anything from them in the future. I kind of wish I could make this case go viral on social media. Amazon needs a backlash for their bad business in this case.
    warLoc, Mr Majestyk and EClyde like this.
  4. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,456   +621

    This 100%
    Wendig0 and p51d007 like this.
  5. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,499   +514

    In a perfect world they would know who the manufacture is. But with Amazon and Ebay that is not always the case, I understand this risk. The ability to buy goods from anyone is a huge part of what made Ebay and Amazon so popular.

    Identifying the manufacture is not the responsibility of Ebay or Amazon. If the manufacture of an item cannot be provided by the seller upon request BEFORE buying the item, do not buy it if that is important to you.

    It's like a garage sale... Thrift store... Or Good Will... Pawn Shop..... Some people even sell tumbleweeds on ebay...
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018

  6. Phase one: Amazon is held liable for a manufacturer defect.

    Phase two: Retailers across America half (or more) their product offerings and limit inventory to select models of big name brands.

    Phase three: Consumers wonder why they can only find electronics from Sharper Image and Samsung in stores.

    Phase four: Five years later people who wanted retailers held liable for manufacturer defects get upset that they can only buy a limited selection of old technology in America.

    You didn't think this through very well.
    Capaill and Wendig0 like this.
  7. cuerdc

    cuerdc TS Booster Posts: 177   +41

    Accidents happen, everyone knew issue with hoverboards regardless of where they came from. Im sure they had insurance. Typical where there's blame there's a claim culture.
  8. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,263   +3,679

    Despite the judges ruling, it goes against past presidents. Sears, Walmart and a number of other retailers have been held partly liability for "pandering defective or unknown products". Tennessee is known for having one of the most corrupt legal systems in the nation so the ruling comes as no surprise. Let's hope the legal watchdogs are monitoring this judges accounts inside and outside the country!
  9. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,266   +4,935

    There really is nothing to think through. This judge is corrupt and was probably bought out by Amazon.
    Mr Majestyk likes this.
  10. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,805   +665

    "It was never clear who manufactured the hoverboard," This is BS
    Mr Majestyk likes this.
  11. kapital98

    kapital98 TS Guru Posts: 324   +256

    The modern precedent was set back in the 50's and 60's. Where prior the courts (in particular, the Supreme Court) had found liability to be all encompassing, the courts from the 50's onward started to see limited liability. One of the leading cases was where a man bought a wood chipper (or something similiar) and wanted to sue the business that sold him the product. In a major ruling, the court decided that it wasn't the business' fault. It was the manufacturer's fault. He should sue the manufacturer.

    The reasoning was it would stifle the business's ability to sell products if they were personally liable (which was the pre-existing standard). This makes even more sense in modern business where the economy is more international than ever. What does Walmart have to do with the safety of a lawnmower, for instance?

    With that said: class action lawsuits were easy in the 50's. They are almost impossible now.
  12. Axle Grease

    Axle Grease TS Addict Posts: 135   +56

    That was a good decision by the judge. I don't know why the manufacturer of the hoverboard can't be tracked down and then sued. You'd think a distributor would store seller information which would at least be a start. Alternatively, what's left of the hoverboard could've been stripped down and the manufacturer of some part located which would perhaps have a record of buyers of that part over a particular period of time. It just seems nobody did any detective work.
  13. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,903   +3,350

    Hm, I'm kind of on the middle on this one. While I don't want to open up retailers to suites every time a consumer has an issue with an item, Amazon bears responsibility in checking it's product sources. That goes double for items with dangerous parts, like batteries. Amazon should do the bear minimum of making sure electronic devices meet basic FTC and FCC guidelines. Otherwise Amazon is importing devices not legally allowed for sale/use in the US.

    The US government should investigate to make sure Amazon wasn't willingly selling devices that haven't passed US electrical compliance certifications. Those are not legal for sale in the US.
  14. GeforcerFX

    GeforcerFX TS Evangelist Posts: 862   +367

    I also find myself in the middle. These devices were fads, with almost no major manufacturer being the quality lead it turned into who could make them the cheapest in China. Amazon could totally tell you who made that product in 2015, whether or not the information they gave is true and traceable and whether or not China will actually allow the suite to happen is a whole other story in itself. I honestly never expect any quality from a cheap Chinese product with no major company backing it. The other side of this is on the people, in 2018 if people have not figured out that lipo or really any rechargeable battery is dangerous and does have the potential to explode then that's on them as well. ever RC vehicle I have owned since the mid 1990's has said recharge under adult supervision, never leave the battery unattended, and soo on, and I am sure this device came with the same instructions in the box. I guess this is a live and learn situation, this is why you have homeowners insurance, luckily no one was seriously injured, the parents and kids and there immediate friends and family will be smarter consumers due to this.
  15. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,779   +3,906

    This Megan Fox? :confused:
    Capaill, Lionvibez and erickmendes like this.
  16. TheBigT42

    TheBigT42 TS Maniac Posts: 311   +190

    The MANUFACTURE of the product not the suppliers!
    Wendig0 likes this.
  17. Wendig0

    Wendig0 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,144   +142

    [QUOTE="Uncle Al, post: 1687257, member: 353411]Tennessee is known for having one of the most corrupt legal systems in the nation so the ruling comes as no surprise.[/QUOTE]

    You mean aside from Alabama, Illinois, New York, California, Minnesota, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Colorado, etc? Tennessee, when it comes to corrupt judges and public officials, comes in very low on the corruption list.

    The judge made a good call in this case. Finding Amazon liable would have been comparable to finding gun manufacturers and retailers liable for mass shootings. Amazon did the right thing by pulling the product and issuing a warning to consumers when they recognized the dangers. Like any retailer will tell you, it doesn't make sense to pull a product over a few defective units. When they realized the full scope of the defects, the product was pulled.

    As someone else mentioned, a lot of retailers on Amazon are just average people that buy wholesale from sites like Alibaba and flip the products on Amazon's site. They're not all major corporations/manufacturers.

Add your comment to this article

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...