Amazon sued over dangerous fake hoverboard

A US family who believe they bought a counterfeit hoverboard off Amazon is suing the e-commerce site for $30m.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Nashville, Tennessee, claims the Fox family's $1m home was destroyed in January by a fire caused by the counterfeit hoverboard toy. The father had to rescue two children from the second floor.

The lawsuit lists the seller of the hoverboard as "W-Deals" but alleges it is a fictitious organisation, registered to a New York City apartment, which has not responded to requests from lawyers.

The case claims that the FITURBO F1 hoverboard had been bought from Amazon under the belief it was a brand name with the correct Samsung lithium ion battery but in actual fact it alleges the hoverboard was a counterfeit. It is believed the toy was produced in China, although neither Amazon nor an investigation has been able to confirm this nor who the real manufacturer is.

According to Tennessee product liability law, the seller is responsible if the manufacturer cannot be found.

The lawsuit, which names 10 defendants as responsible, including Amazon and retailers on its sites, seeks $30m in damages and additional financial penalties against the retailer, as well as compensation for physical injuries and emotional distress.

"The Foxes contend that Amazon and its various subsidiaries had information about the danger of this product well in advance of the January 9 fire, and on top of that, they had notice, they should have known the product was being misrepresented on their website," said Steve Anderson, of the law firm Anderson & Reynolds, which is representing the Fox Family.

"The most horrific thing was obviously the episode that day and trying to rescue these two teenagers, and the profound impact on them. It's also important to consider that literally in a matter of a few minutes every single personal possession of this entire family was destroyed."

Amazon declined to comment as the case was pending.

Counterfeiters have focused their attention on hoverboards due to the popularity of the toy, which were particularly sought after as Christmas presents last year.

In the US, authorities have seized thousands of counterfeit hoverboards with fake batteries. In January, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Chicago seized more than 16,000 counterfeit hoverboards with fake safety seals worth $6m.

But even genuine hoverboards have been deemed dangerous and there have been a number of cases recently where genuine products have overheated or caught fire. In July, more than 500,000 hoverboards were recalled by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission after 99 reports of battery malfunction and 18 reports of injuries, and several US airlines have banned the toys from flights.

At the end of last year, Amazon pulled hoverboard listings from the website on safety grounds, asking manufacturers to prove the gadgets "are compliant with applicable safety standards," particularly in regards to the battery and chargers.

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