Target, Hoverboard Maker Agree to $38.5M Settlement Over Fire That Killed 2 Girls

By | February 21, 2024

Retailer Target and the maker of a hoverboard the store sold have agreed to a $38.5 million settlement of a lawsuit claiming the scooter caused a Pennsylvania house fire in which two girls, ages 10 and 15, died.

The lawsuit filed in September 2022 in federal court for eastern Pennsylvania claimed that Target and the hoverboard manufacturer, Jetson Electric Bikes, knew about fire risks associated with the hoverboard. Jennifer and Damien Kaufman, parents of the deceased children, claimed Target and Jetson knew the Jetson Rogue Hoverboard could ignite without warning and cause a fire, catastrophic injuries, and/or death but they marketed and sold the hoverboard anyway as being safe and made for “everyday adventures” and without adequately warning consumers.

Damien Kaufman bought the hoverboard as a Christmas gift for one of his daughters at a Target store in Quakerstown. The complaint alleged that on April 1, 2022, the hoverboard short-circuited while it was being charged, causing the fire that rapidly filled their Hellertown home with flames and smoke. Two children, Abigail and Brianna, were trapped on the second floor. They were rescued by firefighters but suffered smoke inhalation and died at the hospital. The Kaufmans’ home and all of their personal belongings were completely destroyed.

The local fire marshal determined the hoverboard started the fire. A 2023 report by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) determined that a Jetson Rogue was the point of origin of the fire, although the report said the exact cause of the fire was undetermined. In March 2023, Brooklyn, New York-based Jetson recalled 53,000 of the scooters because their lithium-ion battery packs could overheat and cause fires.

The parents sued under wrongful death and survival acts, alleging strict products liability, failure to warn, negligence, breach of implied warranty, violations of the state’s consumer protection law and other claims and seeking damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, including loss of their daughters’ future earnings and life’s pleasures.

The $38.5 million settlement includes a 40% contingent fee for the Kaufmans’ law firm, Kline & Specter, and about $311,000 for additional legal costs and medical liens. About $22 million will go to the estates of the children and their parents.

The hoverboards were sold at Target stores nationwide and online from August 2018 through June 2019 and by Jetson online from January 2019 through November 2021 for between $100 and $150.

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