Lawsuit claims Onewheel’s failure to warn is to blame for Eagle County man’s death

Wrongful death case filed in U.S. District Court in Colorado

A Onewheel rider leans forward in an effort to propel the device’s electric motor.
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It’s a feeling Onewheel riders know well: The device begins to push back a little before the motor suddenly dies.

The problem with that scenario, as alleged in a new lawsuit, is many Onewheel riders are propelling the device by leaning forward at the time, causing the Onewheel to nosedive upon the failure of the engine. And that can lead to injury or worse.

A case in Eagle County played out that way in late 2021, and a young man lost his father after the two enjoyed a Onewheel ride together in Gypsum.

The young man’s complaint says the device’s failure to provide an obvious warning when it’s about to nosedive caused the wrongful death of his dad.

The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Colorado on May 17 by plaintiff attorneys Robert W. Cowan and Aaron M. Heckaman of Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC.

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According to the complaint, the father-and-son pair were riding together in December in Gypsum on a flat, smooth, asphalt-paved sidewalk when the Onewheel the father was riding suddenly nosedived while he was riding on the sidewalk, throwing him forward from the board.

The complaint says the man was knocked unconscious, suffering severe head and brain trauma as a result of being ejected from the Onewheel.

Police and paramedics arrived on scene, but he temporarily regained consciousness and was able to return to his residence. After arriving home, however, his condition worsened and he was rushed to Vail Health Hospital, where he stayed less than an hour before being air lifted to Denver Health Trauma Center. He underwent surgery, but did not improve and ultimately died as a result of the brain injuries caused by his unexpected ejection from the Onewheel device, according to the complaint.

The Vail Daily has chosen to withhold the name of the deceased man at this time due to the fact that his children, with whom he shares a surname, are too young to be named as administrators of his estate. The complaint says estate has the right to seek damages based on several factors:

  • Negligence: “Failing to exercise ordinary care and due diligence in negligently designing, manufacturing, marketing, selling, and distributing the Onewheel device used by (the deceased) such that the device could not be operated in a normal, safe, and non-dangerous manner and proximately caused Decedent’s injuries.”
  • Strict liability: “The Onewheel device that was designed, manufactured, distributed and/or sold by Defendant was defective in design or construction in that when it left the hands of the Defendant, it was unreasonably dangerous.”
  • Failure to warn: “Failing to ensure Onewheel warnings were accurate, conspicuous and adequate despite having extensive knowledge of the risks associated with Onewheel use.”
  • Negligent design: “Defendant knew of the grave risks caused by its product from investigation and testing performed by themselves or others or, to the extent Defendant did not fully know of those risks, it was because Defendant unreasonably failed to perform appropriate, adequate and proper investigations and tests that would have disclosed those risks.”
  • Negligent recall/retrofit: “After Defendant learned that the Onewheel was dangerous or was likely to be dangerous when used in a reasonably foreseeable manner, Defendant failed to recall or retrofit or warn of the danger of the Onewheel.”
  • Violation of Consumer Protection Act: “Purposely downplaying and understating the safety hazards and risks associated with Onewheel use … constitute unlawful, unfair, deceptive, untrue and misleading advertising as prohibited by Colorado Revised Statute § 6-1-105.”

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