The suit named nine defendants, including retail giant Amazon. The family is seeking $30 million in damages from the online retailer, after the two wheeled toy caught fire and destroyed their multi-million dollar home.
USA Today quoted the family’s lawyer as saying, “The Foxes contend that Amazon and its various subsidiaries had information about the danger of this product well in advance of the Jan. 9 fire.” The lawyer continued, “We’ve spent months investigating it and to this day I don’t know who manufactured this product, and it doesn’t appear that Amazon does [either].” The lawsuit has targeted Amazon for marketing and selling unsafe, and potentially deadly, equipment.
Many hoverboards are a part of a new wave of black market Chinese-manufactured electronics. These toys, games and communication devices often use inexpensive substitutes for vital electronic components; Placing consumers at greater risk for injury. Many of these “faulty electronics” find their way into American households through online retailers such as Amazon and Wish.
In the case of hoverboards, the “cheap” lithium-ion batteries are thought to have caused the fire. Batteryuniversity.com profiled inexpensive li-on batteries in a recent article, “Asia produces many non-brand replacement batteries that are popular with cell phone users because of low price. Many of these batteries don’t provide the same high safety standard as the main brand equivalent.” The story went on to talk about the dangers of larger black market batteries, “The safety precaution is especially critical on larger batteries, such as laptop packs. The hazard is so much greater than on a small cell phone battery if something goes wrong. For this reason, many laptop manufacturers secure their batteries with a secret code that only the matching computer can access.”
Brian Fox, the Father of the family whose home was lost to fire, spoke of the harrowing ordeal. Fox told the Washington Post that he thought, “I’m going to lose two of my children today.” Thankfully that was not the case, as his eldest daughter Hailey burst through an upstairs window. Fox told his daughter that she’d have to jump to save her own life. It was only after Hailey lept off the second story roof, then rolled through the family’s front yard, that Fox noticed the wound on her ankle (that would later require 20 stitches).
But Fox knew his son Matthew was still in the building. He grabbed a ladder at the base of the garage. As the patriarch climbed the ladder to his son’s room, the bedroom window shattered. It was Matthew. He had thrown a step ladder through the glass in an attempt to escape. Matthew jumped out of the window into his dad’s arms. Both son and father fell almost 20 feet onto the garden below. Fox landed on his back, shattering his elbow during the ordeal.
Brian Fox had saved his family, but he had lost their home.
“I would like people to realize, you can think it won’t happen to you, maybe you’ll be lucky and it won’t, but it can,” Megan Fox told WP.
It was Mrs. Fox who had purchased the “FITURBO F1” hoverboard off of Amazon. The online reviews were positive, and the listing said the hoverboard included a name brand Samsung battery. So at the urging of her son, she ordered the scooter. She was certain it would be a christmas to remember.
On December 25th Matthew unwrapped the gift. On Jan. 9th the family’s home was in ruins.
The Fox family is not alone in their quest for accountability from hoverboard distributors. Hundreds of similar lawsuits have been filed across the country. At the time this article was published, hoverboards are still available on amazon.com despite at least one recent death linked to hoverboard fire.