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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Family Says Exploding Scooter Destroyed Home

(CN) — A Tennessee family claims in a $30 million lawsuit that their decision to buy a hoverboard scooter from Amazon ended with two children jumping from second-story windows to escape their burning home.

Megan and Charles Brian Fox sued the online retailer Wednesday in Davidson County, Tenn., individually and on behalf of their children Hailey, Matthew, Rebecca and Sarah Fox.

According to the 18-page complaint, Megan bought "a self-balancing scooter, more commonly known as a hoverboard," from Amazon.com in November 2015. The Fiturbo F1 scooter was a Christmas gift for 14-year-old Matthew.

The family used the hoverboard until tragedy struck two weeks later, they say.

"The hoverboard burst into flames inside the Fox house on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016," the complaint states. "The fire completely destroyed the plaintiffs' house and virtually all of their personal belongings in a matter of minutes."

Brian Fox says he was turning into the family's subdivision when 16-year-old Hailey told him on the phone that the house was on fire.

"Then the phone line went dead. Brian looked up and saw smoking billowing over the trees. He accelerated toward his house, drove his car over the curb, and stopped in the front yard," according to the lawsuit.

The father "feared that Hailey and Matthew were either dead or dying" inside the house, the complaint states, and he kicked in the front door, trying to locate his two children. He says he saw Hailey banging on her second-story bathroom window and "pleaded with her to break the small window out from the inside."

"Eventually she was able to break out and, with smoke billowing from behind her, Brian yelled for Hailey to jump out the window to him. Hailey flung herself through the second floor window, and Brian did his best to break her fall," the lawsuit states.

Brian then ran around the house yelling Matthew's name, and eventually saw him banging on a second-story window in a room above the garage, according to the complaint.

"Brian grabbed the ladder he kept behind the house and used it to climb up to the window where Matthew was. Brian could see Matthew through the massive fire and smoke and yelled for him to keep trying to break the window," the complaint states. "Eventually, despite having to inflict significant injuries on his hands and forearms as well as his legs, Matthew was able to break through the glass. Panicked, Matthew dove out of the second story window into his father's arms. Brian and Matthew fell to the ground from the second floor."

Megan, meanwhile, "arrived moments later to see her house fully engulfed in flames and multiple fire engines, but her husband and children injured but alive."

"Brian Fox suffered the unspeakable terror of finding out that his two teenage children were trapped in a burning house and believing that he was going to lose one or both of them to the fire," according to the lawsuit.

The hoverboard's lithium battery pack was the cause of the "catastrophic fire," the Foxes say.

The family brought claims of product liability, negligence and misrepresentation against Amazon. W2M Trading Corp. is also named as a defendant, based on Amazon's contention that it participated in the sale of the scooter.

"These hoverboards, including the one sold to Mrs. Fox, were extremely dangerous and presented a substantial product hazard," the complaint states. "The Amazon defendants knew of these product hazards well in advance of the fire at the Fox home."

The family says the value of their home and personal property lost in the fire is more than $1.9 million.

The Foxes seek $30 million plus punitive damages. They are represented by Steven Anderson of Anderson & Reynolds in Nashville.

An Amazon spokesman told Courthouse News that the company does not comment on litigation.

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