Better wear a helmet. For that matter, maybe some knee and elbow pads, too.
A proposed class action alleges Future Motion’s Onewheel battery-powered skateboard is “defective and unreasonably dangerous” due to a problem with its “pushback” feature, which uses physical resistance to let a rider know when the device is approaching its limits.
The 41-page lawsuit says that although the Onewheel pushback feature is designed to warn a rider of excessive speeds, low battery power or other “dangerous situation[s],” it will oftentimes cause the device to simply shut off and nosedive abruptly, catapulting the rider head over heels.
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According to the complaint, the Onewheel nosedive defect is to blame for myriad broken bones, road rashes, cuts and bruises and has caused “at least three deaths,” all because of “a design flaw that was easily fixable.”
As the case tells it, Future Motion could have designed the Onewheel, which is available in the original, Onewheel+, Onewheel+ XR, Pint, Pint X and GT models, to emit a warning sign—say, a light or audible beep—or simply slow down in the event of a problem. Instead, the complaint says, the Onewheel was designed to suddenly stop and/or nosedive, “at considerable risk to the rider.”
The case accuses Santa Cruz, California-based Future Motion of falsely and misleadingly advertising the Onewheel, in particular because most “toys,” especially those touted for how easy and fun they are to use, “don’t generally have the capacity to maim or kill their users.”
“And at no point did [Future Motion] disclose the Nose-Dive Defect to the consumer,” the suit says. “No plaintiff or consumer would have purchased the Onewheel if they had known about this material defect, or would not have paid as much for them.”
It’s an electronic skateboard with one wheel
The Onewheel is a self-balancing, battery-powered—and, surprise, one-wheeled—transportation device likened to an “electronic skateboard.” Operating the device is done via a smartphone app, wherein a rider can also see their total miles, battery life, speed and other details, the suit says.
As smart as the Onewheel may be, however, it does have its limits, the filing relays. According to the case, the harder a Onewheel needs to work to “maintain operations,” the less it is able to assist the rider with balancing. Once the Onewheel’s motor reaches a critical point, the case says, its ability to help with balance is “diminished,” and the rider will unexpectedly nosedive as the device seemingly shuts off at random.
Often, this will feel to the rider like the motor suddenly cut out or shut down.”
The lawsuit claims that nowhere in the Onewheel owner’s manual does Future Motion adequately warn riders of the defect and the harm it may cause.
“The cumulative effect of the Owner’s Manual is to deemphasize the legitimate safety risks of the Boards in favor of emphasizing their ease of use,” the suit reads. “Upon information and belief, this was a deliberate attempt by [Future Motion] to market and appeal to as wide of a spectrum of riders as possible at the expense of safety.”
Velocity, grade, battery life and more could cause a nosedive, suit says
According to the complaint, the “primary cause” of pushback nosedives is velocity. When a rider experiences velocity pushback, they will “feel the nose of the board rise to various degrees,” the case relays.
Pushback nosedives can also occur on inclines and declines, supposedly as a way to tell the rider that the motor is about to become strained, the case continues. The problem with this type of pushback, the suit argues, is that it is tough for the rider to discern whether it’s real pushback or, alternatively, just natural resistance from going up or down a hill.
Other times, the Onewheel will push back when the device’s battery is low, the case says. In this scenario, the nose of the Onewheel will elevate “dramatically,” according to the complaint.
When the Onewheel senses that its batteries are about to be damaged due to over-depletion, it will “shut off entirely,” forcing the rider to “suddenly and unexpectedly recalibrate his/her balance, often resulting in the rider being thrown from the Board,” the lawsuit says.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, a Onewheel may push back as a result of “regeneration,” when the device recharges its battery using kinetic energy during a decline, the case relays. This, however, may cause the battery to become overcharged and damaged. To “address” this problem, the suit says, Future Motion designed the Onewheel to “suddenly and unexpectedly shut down to prevent battery damage, at the expense of rider safety.”
A Onewheel might also nosedive due to quick acceleration, in particular if its motor cannot support the sudden weight and force it’s experiencing, the case says. Despite this, Future Motion touts the Onewheel’s ability to “accelerate quickly, even from a complete stop,” the lawsuit shares.
Other factors that can affect when a Onewheel abruptly shuts off (and jettisons its rider in the process) include the rider’s weight, the rider’s stance, wind direction and tire pressure, the suit states. Overall, it is “impossible to predict” when exactly a nosedive will happen or what will cause it, the lawsuit claims.
Who does the case look to cover?
The lawsuit aims to represent all individuals and entities who bought a Onewheel electronic skateboard.
I have a Onewheel. How do I sign up?
When a proposed class action is first filed, there’s usually nothing you need to do to join, sign up for, or add your name to the lawsuit. That’s because it’s typically only if and when a case settles that the people who are involved, known as “class members,” will have to act. Most of the time, this involves filling out and filing a claim form online or by mail. Many times, consumers will be contacted directly if a case affecting them settles.