OneWheel Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over Nose-Dive Defect
According to allegations raised in a class action lawsuit against the makers of OneWheel electric skateboards, consumers were sold an unreasonably dangerous product, which contains a “nose-dive” defect that can cause riders to be suddenly thrown from the self-balancing devices.
The complaint (PDF) was filed by Thomas Nemeth on November 1 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, pursuing damages on behalf of himself and all other individuals who purchased a OneWheel skateboard prior to a recall issued on September 29, 2023.
Onewheels are electric skateboards that can accelerate to speeds of about 20 miles per hour, while the rider balances on the supposedly self-righting board. However, in recent months there have been a number of OneWheel lawsuits filed after riders suffered devastating injuries when a “pushback” feature failed, causing the OneWheel to nose-dive and stop suddenly.
Nemeth indicates that he purchased a OneWheel in August 2023, believing it was a safe mode of transportation. When he took his first ride on September 28, Nemeth indicates that the OneWheel stopped suddenly at the end of his driveway without warning, throwing him forward onto the pavement and breaking his collar bone.
As a result of the injury, Nemeth had to undergo surgery in early October, and has a permanent plate in his collar bone. The lawsuit indicates that his injury was caused by design defects with the “pushback” feature, which is supposed to give the rider physical resistence when the skateboard is reaching its operational limit. However, it can cause the OneWheel front end to suddenly drop down, causing accidents commonly referred to as “nose dives”.
Just days after Nemeth’s injury, the nose-dive defect resulted in a massive Onewheel recall, impacting 300,000 devices sold in the U.S.
On September 29, 2023, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warned that the Onewheel nose dive accidents pose a serious risk of injury or death to riders, noting that Future Motion had received dozens of reports of incidents and injuries between 2019 and 2021, including four deaths. Riders suffered traumatic brain injuries, concussions, paralysis, upper-body fractures, lower-body fractures and damage to ligaments.
Nemeth’s lawsuit says there appear to be many circumstances which lead to the accidents, with nosedives occurring on inclines, declines, battery depletion and acceleration beyond the device’s limits.
“Different factors impact when and what will cause the Onewheel to shut down and nosedive, including the rider’s weight, tire pressure, wind direction, battery level, rider stance, and the grade of incline or decline,” the lawsuit states. “It is impossible to predict exactly when a nosedive will occur or what will cause it to occur.”
JPML to Consider Onewheel Lawsuit Consolidation
In addition to the OneWheel class action lawsuit brought by Nemeth, there are a number of individual product liability complaints currently pending in various different U.S. District Courts nationwide, each raising similar questions of fact and law.
On October 13, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) announced it will hear oral arguments at the end of November, to determine whether all Onewheel lawsuits should be consolidated before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings.
After the hearings, the JPML will decide whether to establish a Onewheel MDL and which venue is most appropriate. However, even if an MDL is established, each individual claim may later be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it originated if the parties fail to negotiate a Onewheel injury settlement or another resolution for the claims.
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