Amazon must defend hoverboard fire casePosted On: Aug. 21, 2019 1:48 PM CST
A federal district court has refused to dismiss a negligent misrepresentation claim filed by a Chubb Corp. unit against Amazon.com in connection with its sale of a hoverboard whose battery exploded, causing a fire that severely damaged a home.
Dan and Danielle Perper bought a hoverboard in November 2015 through Amazon.com’s website that described it as containing a “genuine Samsung battery package” when in fact it had a counterfeit Samsung battery package produced by a Chinese manufacturer, according to Tuesday’s ruling by the U.S. District Court in Chicago in Great Northern Insurance Co. v. Amazon.com Inc.
“The listing did not warn about the danger posed by the Hoverboard’s battery package, nor did Amazon communicate any warning to the Perpers after the sale,” according to the ruling. The hoverboard’s battery spontaneously combusted in February 2016, resulting in a fire that severely damaged the Perper residence. Following the sale to the Perpers, but before the fire, Amazon became aware of at least nine fires caused by similar hoverboards sold on its website, according to the decision.
As the Perpers’ insurer, Chubb unit Great Northern paid $3.8 million to the couple, who subrogated their rights in the case. In its lawsuit, Great Northern charged Amazon with product liability, negligent failure to warn, negligent misrepresentation and violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices act.
Amazon moved to dismiss all claims except for the product liability claim. The court refused to dismiss the negligent misrepresentation claim and the state law claim. In discussing the former, the court said Amazon’s grounds for dismissal of the claim were “unpersuasive.”
Among its arguments is that Great Northern “does not identify a false representation,” said the ruling. “That is incorrect,” the ruling said. The insurer alleges the Amazon website falsely stated the hoverboard had a genuine Samsung battery package when it was a counterfeit.
The court did agree to dismiss the negligent failure to warn claim. Illinois law “does not recognize a post-sale duty to warn consumers of design or manufacturing discovered after the time of the sale,” said the ruling.
“That aspect of Illinois law dooms Great Northern’s claim,” said the ruling. Its opposition brief “characterizes its negligent failure to warn claim as a post-sale duty to warn claim, not as a time-of-sale claim…Because no such post-sale duty exists under Illinois law, Great Norther’s claim is dismissed.” The insurer was given until Sept. 10 to file an amended complaint that repleads the claim.
Attorneys for Chubb and Amazon had no comment.
In May, a federal appeals court overturned a lower court ruling and reinstated litigation against Amazon.com Inc. for selling a hoverboard that caught fire, burned down the plaintiff’s house and caused him severe injuries.