JPML to Hear Oral Arguments Over Onewheel Injury Lawsuit Consolidation This Week

Lawsuits have spiked since a Onewheel recall was announced at the end of September, impacting 300,000 of the electric skateboards, due to a defect that may cause the OneWheel to "nose dive" and throw riders to the ground.

A panel of federal judges will hear oral arguments this week about whether to consolidate all Onewheel injury lawsuits before a single judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

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 alleging that design defects caused devastating Onewheel injuries and accidents.

Each of the complaints involve similar questions of fact and law, alleging that the Onewheel 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 Onewheel injury if earlier actions had been taken by the manufacturer.

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Lawsuits allege that design defects may cause a OneWheel to nosedive or suddenly stop. Settlements are being pursued for injuries in OneWheel electric skateboard accidents.

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In September, the manufacturer of the electric skateboard, Future Motion, petitioned the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to consolidate all lawsuits over Onewheel accidents and injuries before one judge for pretrial proceedings. The motion called for the claims to be centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Some plaintiffs have protested the creation of a Onewheel MDL, but Future Motion claims those plaintiffs are unaware of the full scope of the litigation and how consolidation will streamline and benefit all parties.

In October, the JPML announced it will hear oral arguments over whether Onewheel injury lawsuits should be consolidated before one federal judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings on November 30. The hearing will take place at the U.S. District Court in San Antonio, Texas. The JPML is tasked with deciding if the cases should be consolidated, and where such consolidation should be if an Onewheel MDL is created.

When the motion to consolidate was filed, Onewheel faced at least 31 product liability lawsuits in 14 different federal districts. The most claims, 11, have been filed 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.

Some plaintiffs support consolidation, but a batch of plaintiffs known as the Loh plaintiffs have filed a class action lawsuit in the Northern District of California, and say their case should not be part of the MDL, if one is created. They argue that Future Motion’s offices are in California, and only one of the 16 named plaintiffs who are part of the class action lives in Florida.

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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