Onewheel Skateboard Lawsuits Consolidated into MDL for Pretrial Proceedings
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has determined that all Onewheel skateboard lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system will be consolidated before one judge for coordinated discovery and pretrial pretrial proceedings in the Northern District of California.
Onewheels are electric skateboards with only one wheel, which can accelerate to speeds of about 20 miles per hour while the rider balances on the supposedly self-righting board. However, dozens of product liability lawsuits have been filed in recent months, each raising nearly identical allegations that design defects caused devastating Onewheel skateboard injuries and accidents.
Each of the complaints describe similar questions of fact and law, indicating that the Onewheel skateboard is prone to nosedive due to problems with safety feature, known as “pushback”, which is supposed to give the rider physical resistance when the skateboard is reaching its operational limit. However, some users report that the Onewheel stopped completely, pitching forward in what has been called a “nose dive” and often hurling the rider to the ground.
These problems resulted in a massive Onewheel recall in late September 2023, affecting 300,000 devices sold in the U.S., and plaintiffs each claim that they may have avoided a serious injury while riding the electric skateboard if earlier actions had been taken by the manufacturer.
In September, the manufacturer of the electric skateboard, Future Motion, filed a motion calling for the courts to consolidate all lawsuits over Onewheel accidents and injuries before one judge for pretrial proceedings. The motion asked that the claims to be centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, but various plaintiffs filed responses proposing alternate venues.
Judges Create Onewheel Skateboard Lawsuit MDL
The U.S. JPML heard oral arguments late last month on whether all the Onewheel skateboard litigation should be consolidated before a single federal judge, and considered the most appropriate court to preside over the claims.
When the motion to consolidate was filed, Onewheel faced at least 31 product liability lawsuits in 14 different federal districts, with at least one-third of the claims pending in the Middle District of Florida. However, it is widely expected that dozens of additional complaints will be filed in the coming weeks and months, and it is ultimately likely that several hundred claims will be brought throughout the federal court system.
In a transfer order (PDF) issued on December 8, the JPML called for all Onewheel lawsuits to be consolidated before U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman in the Northern District of California, indicating that consolidation would benefit all parties.
“These actions share factual questions arising from allegations that Future Motion’s ‘Onewheel’ electric skateboard is defective because it can unexpectedly stop or shut off, causing the front of the skateboard to ‘nosedive’ into the ground and throw the rider off at speeds as high as 20 miles per hour,” the judges wrote. “Most of the complaints contain substantially similar or identical factual allegations regarding Future Motion and the alleged defect in the Onewheel, differing only as to plaintiffs’ alleged injuries.”
Now that a Onewheel skateboard lawsuit MDL has been established, it is likely that Judge Freeman will order the parties to prepare certain cases for early “bellwether” test cases, which will help the parties gauge how juries will respond to evidence and testimony expected to be used throughout the litigation.
If the parties are unable to reach a Onewheel skateboard settlement or other resolution to the litigation, each claim may be later remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it originated for individual trial dates.
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