Parents of two girls killed in the village house fire in Hellertown in April sued the hoverboard manufacturer and Walmart, claiming that the fire was caused by a faulty charging of the hoverboard in the living room.
The lawsuit alleges that the Jetson Rogue Hoverboard, purchased at the Quakertown Walmart, had a “defective and unreasonably dangerous design” and that the manufacturer, Jetson Electric Bikes, knew or should have known that it could short circuit and start a fire while charging. Still, the companies continued to market, sell and advertise the hoverboard, the suit says.
Brianna Baer, 15, and Abigail Kaufman, 10, were trapped on the second floor of their Linden Avenue home when a fire broke out on the first floor on April 1. Their mother, Jennifer Lee Kaufman, escaped from the first floor. Their father, Damien Kaufman, who was in the detached garage when the fire broke out, tried unsuccessfully to contact the girls.
Firefighters rescued the girls, but they died from their injuries at St. Luke’s University Hospital in Fountain Hill.
Neither company could be reached for comment.
About a week after the fire, Northampton County officials concluded the fire was “electrical,” but said the specific cause remained under investigation.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District, alleges that the defendants “knowingly, willfully, and knowingly concealed their knowledge of these serious dangers.”
It said the manufacturer’s manual and website failed to acknowledge the product’s risk and that the defendants engaged in “negligent, reckless, fraudulent and/or egregious conduct.”
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“We intend to hold the seller and manufacturer of this dangerous product accountable for the deaths of two innocent young children and, in doing so, aim to prevent future injuries, deaths and heartache,” said Kline’s Tom Kline. & Specter, PC, the firm representing the Kaufmans.
The lawsuit also alleges that the hoverboard’s batteries were subject to short circuits and degradation, and that the product was not properly tested before being distributed and sold.
Jetson, which sells hoverboards, electric bikes and scooters, was founded in 2012. Its website says the Rogue Hoverboard, which retails for $170, has a lithium-ion battery with a two-hour charge.
The suit says Damien Kaufman bought the board in 2018 as a Christmas present for Briana. Abigail was charging the board in her bedroom, but the girls were in Brianna’s bedroom when the fire started, the lawsuit says.
On your website The Consumer Product Safety Commission says it is aware of 250 incidents involving hoverboards that caught fire or overheated since 2015. Among them was a house fire in Harrisburg in March 2017 that killed a 2-year-old and a 10-year-old girl.
The site lists 17 hoverboard recalls issued by manufacturers and retailers from July 2016 to November 2017 for Walmart participation with Jetson Electric Bikes.
This story will be updated