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Man rides on electric onewheel skateboard on sidewalk at beach

Last December, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) ordered all federally filed Onewheel lawsuits centralized in the Northern District of California. The Honorable Beth Labson Freeman was appointed to oversee the proceedings.

Now, according to a recent court order, the parties will soon meet with a U.S. Magistrate Judge to discuss the potential for early resolution to the litigation.

On September 29, 2023, manufacturer Future Motion recalled about 300,000 Onewheel self-balancing electric skateboards due to a crash hazard.

Parties in Onewheel Litigation Meeting with a Magistrate

According to the order, the parties had jointly recommended the appointment of Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler to preside over their efforts to settle their respective cases. The first conference with the Magistrate took place on February 15, 2024. The parties were expected to discuss the timing and logistics of future negotiations.

The process will take some time, but should the parties be able to come to an agreement, they will be able to resolve the litigation without having to prepare for and go through a series of trials.

Should the negotiations break down, however, the parties will return to the task of preparing a small number of cases for early, bellwether trials. Before entering into talks with the magistrate, the parties had been tasked with selecting three cases each (three from the plaintiffs and three from the defendants) that they believed to be representative of the bulk of the cases.

These selections were to be completed by April 10, 2024.

Despite Reports of Death, Future Motion Resisted a Onewheel Recall

Onewheel skateboards were manufactured in the United States and distributed by Future Motion Inc., of Santa Cruz, California. They were sold online at www.onewheel.com and other websites and at independent shops nationwide from January 2014 through September 2023 for between $1,050 and $2,200.

While the product was on the market, Future Motion received dozens of reports of concerning incidents, including four reported deaths between 2019 and 2021. The reports also told of injuries like traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), concussions, paralysis, upper-body fractures, lower-body fractures, and ligament damage.

Despite these reports, Future Motion refused to recall the products, even after the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) expressed its concern about them. In November 2022, the CPSC warned consumers to stop using the skateboards because of an ejection hazard. Future Motion still refused to take action.

It wasn’t until nearly a year later that the company announced the recall of all models, including the original Onewheel, Onewheel +, Onewheel+ XR, Onewheel Pint, Onewheel Pint X, and Onewheel GT.

In the recall notice, Future Motion admitted that the skateboards could stop balancing the rider if the boards’ limits were exceeded, posing a crash hazard. The company offered a firmware update as a remedy. The update included a warning system that alerted the rider when nearing the limits of the board or in the event of low battery or error states.

Plaintiffs Claim Future Motion Failed to Warn About Onewheel Dangers

Before the recall, at least three plaintiffs had filed wrongful death lawsuits against Future Motion, alleging the product was unsafe. After the recall, more customers followed suit, until there were enough cases to warrant consolidation.

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