A civil wrongful death lawsuit filed in a California Superior Court claims a defectively designed Onewheel electric skateboard manufactured by Future Motion Inc. caused a Texas man to suffer fatal injuries after it abruptly shut down and nosedived mid-ride.
HOUSTON, May 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Texas Trial Lawyers from the law firm of Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC have filed a civil product liability lawsuit against Future Motion, Inc., claiming defects in the Silicon Valley tech start-ups' Onewheel electric transportation device caused a Houston man's fatal crash.
The lawsuit (Case No. 20CV00909) was filed on March 13, 2020 in Santa Cruz County Superior Court on behalf of the man's surviving wife and son. It seeks compensation for pain and suffering, lost financial support, emotional injuries, medical expenses, and punitive damages.
Onewheel Nosedive Causes Fatal Accident According to court records, the lawsuit was filed over the wrongful death of a Houston man who, in May 2019, had been riding his Onewheel board in a neighborhood park.
Upon information and belief, the suit claims, the man had been riding on a flat, paved surface when his Onewheel device abruptly shut off and nosedived, causing the front of the board to slam forward and throw the man onto the pavement. He suffered severe head and brain trauma, and was airlifted to a local hospital for emergency surgery, where he succumbed to his injuries.
Allegations of Design Defects, Failures to Warn In the civil complaint, the Plaintiffs allege the man's injuries were caused by a defectively designed, manufactured, and marketed Onewheel device. The suit also claims strict liability, failures to warn, negligent design, and violations of the California Business & Professions Code for misleading consumers into believing Onewheel was safe, and downplaying risks associated with the device.
As noted in the lawsuit, the Onewheel is a battery-powered, self-balancing device powered by a single heavy wheel. It is often referred to as a type of electric skateboard, and riders are able to steer by shifting their weight and body positioning, reaching speeds upwards of 20 mph or more.
In the suit, the Plaintiffs claim that Onewheel's ability to provide riders with "pushback" when approaching the device's limitations during use – purportedly designed as a warning for riders to avoid dangerous situations – will often instead hinder the motor's normal ability to help riders' balance, resulting in what feels like a sudden shut off or motor cut out. This causes an abrupt and unexpected nosedive that can throw riders off the device.
Though various factors may cause the Onewheel to nosedive, the lawsuit claims pushback nosediving commonly results from velocity or rapid acceleration, ascending or descending hills, and when the battery is nearing depletion.
Another form of pushback – regeneration pushback – is intended by design to prevent battery damage when the Onewheel collects kinetic energy while descending (which is how it recharges its battery). Though shutting the motor down may protect the battery, the lawsuit states, it does so "at the expense of rider safety."
"Not only is it prohibitively difficult to determine when nosedives/tailspins/shut-offs will occur, but the result of such unexpected and undiscernible events almost invariably cause the rider to be ejected or fall from the board, resulting in severe injuries or, as in this case, death.
"A Onewheel nosedive or shut-off is not a small event as it might be with any other type of vehicle. The front of the board violently slams into the ground and then the rider is inevitably thrown forward."
Attorneys for the Plaintiffs are requesting a trial by jury, and intend to review other potential claims from victims who've experienced similar shut offs, nose dives, and injuries when riding a Onewheel device.
Bailey Cowan Heckaman is a nationally recognized civil trial practice that's represented thousands of clients across the U.S. Houston-based firm has become known for its work in civil matters involving product liability, toxic exposure, mesothelioma, and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) wage and overtime claims. For more information, visit www.BCHLaw.com.