Freejump Airbag Vests ‘Frequently’ Fail to Inflate Due to Defect, Class Action Claims
A proposed class action alleges the maker of the Freejump Airbag vest has failed to warn consumers that the “unreasonably dangerous” equestrian product is defective and will “frequently” fail to inflate upon a fall from a horse.
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The 31-page lawsuit explains that the airbag vest, made by Freejump Developpement, is purportedly designed to activate a CO2 cartridge and inflate the air jacket, protecting the rider from the impact of a fall, when a lanyard connecting the vest to the horse’s saddle becomes disengaged.
The suit alleges, however, that the Bordeaux, France-based company has failed to warn consumers that the vests often do not inflate as designed and are in fact less effective than conventional body protectors at preventing serious injuries, even when inflated properly.
Moreover, the case charges that the Freejump Airbag vest is advertised as a safer alternative to traditional body protectors despite the lack of any credible, scientific evidence to support this claim.
Indeed, the limited number of studies that have analyzed the injury data for riders wearing air vests concluded that there is no evidence that riders who wear air jackets had reduced injury outcomes in falls. Furthermore, the studies have shown that riders wearing an air jacket were more likely to suffer a serious or fatal injury compared to riders who only wore a standard body protector.”
The complaint, filed on May 23 in Virginia, contends that the defendant, who does business as Freejump System, has “aggressively marketed” its airbag vest as effective protective gear for riders despite knowing that the product is both less safe than alternatives and plagued by a defect that could leave riders without protection should they fall or be thrown from a horse.
“Overwhelming data” contradicts Freejump Airbag vest safety claims, filing says
Though statements in the product’s user guide, on social media and the company’s website tout the airbag vest as “the best protection” for horseback riders, numerous studies have produced “overwhelming data” that suggests the Freejump Airbag, even when inflated properly, provides less protection than a conventional body protector, the lawsuit shares.
According to the suit, a 2015 French study that evaluated more than 2,000 riders and 67 falls concluded that “the rate of injury in riders wearing an air bag jacket was higher than for riders who fell without an air bag.”
Similar research in 2019 indicated that riders wearing an air jacket were almost twice as likely to sustain a severe or fatal injury in a fall compared to those who wore a traditional body protector, many of which are made of high-density foam and specifically engineered to reduce the impact of a fall on internal organs, the case relays.
In light of the foregoing, the filing contends that Freejump System possesses no credible evidence to support the claim that its product provides “incomparable safety” and a “much higher level of protection” than alternative gear on the market. Despite this, the case points out, the Freejump Airbag vest was designed to be “worn on its own,” without a standard body protector of any kind.
“In order to offer adequate protection to riders, Defendant should have warned and instructed consumers to wear the Freejump Airbag with a traditional body protector,” the filing argues.
Freejump System cut corners on research and product testing, complaint alleges
Though Freejump System purportedly had “no experience with airbag technology” prior to 2019, when it acquired Oscar & Gabrielle, a competition jacket maker, the company rolled out the Freejump Airbag in “less than 8 months of research and development,” the lawsuit says. As the suit tells it, the defendant simply used the designs of other comparable air vests and focused on the “aesthetic look” of the product rather than bolstering its critical safety features.
Upon its launch in February 2020, the Freejump Airbag was advertised as offering “superior performance” with regard to inflation speed, and a level of protection that “outperformed” all safety tests, the suit relays. The case contends, however, that the company in fact only conducted “the minimum amount of research and testing that would allow [it] to sell the Freejump Airbag as personal protective equipment.”
According to the complaint, the only research that occurred was impact absorption testing conducted through vertical drops. However, given that falls in equestrian sports are usually “far more complex than a standard, vertical fall,” the filing contests that Freejump System should have conducted additional testing more representative of the reality of riding accidents.
The lawsuit alleges that representations of the Freejump Airbag as safe and effective are “obviously false and misleading,” arguing that no reasonable consumer would have purchased the product had known it was “defective and unreasonably dangerous.”
Plaintiff hospitalized after her air vest failed to inflate, lawsuit claims
Per the suit, the plaintiff, a Virginia resident and experienced horse rider, purchased a Freejump Airbag in September 2020 because the product was advertised as a “safer and lightweight alternative” to a body protector.
During a show-jumping competition in May 2021, the woman, who was wearing the air vest for the first time, was thrown from her horse as she approached a jump, the case says. The Freejump Airbag failed to inflate, and the woman landed on her back on the ground “with significant force,” the complaint describes.
The plaintiff was hospitalized for four days and underwent two surgeries for multiple spinal fractures, which afterward required lengthy physical therapy, the filing reports.
According to the lawsuit, none of the advertising seen by the plaintiff disclosed that the Freejump Airbag would fail to inflate upon a fall from a horse; that it was less effective than traditional body armor at preventing spinal, back and neck injuries; or that the product should be worn over a body protector.
“Had Defendant made these disclosures, Plaintiff would not have purchased the Freejump Airbag or would have paid significantly less for the product,” the suit says.
Who’s covered by the lawsuit?
The case looks to represent anyone in the United States who purchased a Freejump Airbag.
I bought a Freejump Airbag vest. How can I join the lawsuit?
Usually there’s nothing you need to do to join a class action lawsuit when it’s first filed. The time to take action is generally when the case reaches a settlement, at which point the people covered by the deal—known as class members—may be notified directly by email or regular mail with information about their rights and instructions on what to do next.
Remember, it can take months or even years for a class action lawsuit to be resolved.
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