ECONOMY

Fitbit Consumers Claim Burn Hazard Goes Beyond Recalled Device

Alphabet Inc.’s Google didn’t go far enough when it recalled a single model of its Fitbit smartwatches, two women claim in a lawsuit, saying other versions of the device also burn users and can burst into flames.

“Reasonable consumers, like plaintiffs, purchase the products to burn calories — not their skin,” lawyers for the women, one from Pennsylvania and the other from California, said in the lawsuit filed Friday in federal court in San Jose. 

In the proposed class-action lawsuit, they seek to represent buyers of Fitbits in California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Washington, which have similar consumer-protection laws.

In conjunction with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Google announced a voluntary recall of all 1.7 million Ionic smartwatches it sold before discontinuing the model in 2020.

It warned customers that defective lithium ion batteries in the devices could overheat and cause burns and advised them not to bring them on planes, citing FAA regulations that prohibit flyers from traveling with recalled batteries.

Google didn’t respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

On the Fitbit webpage announcing the recall, the company noted that the recall didn’t involve other Fitbit smartwatches or trackers.

But “the same defect exists throughout all” the Fitbit models, the women said in the lawsuit.

To back up their claims, they include several social media posts and photos of people who say they were burned by their Fitbits.

The women are asking to be refunded the purchase price of their Fitbits and to be awarded compensatory and punitive damages.

The consumer commission reported that 118 users reported being burned by the Ionic devices. Most of the burns were minor but four were second-degree burns and two were third-degree, the kind that burns through the skin and causes internal damage.

The Pennsylvania woman said the Versa Light she bought burned her daughter’s wrist. The California woman said she bought a Versa 2, which burned her wrist.

The case is Houtchens v. Google LLC, 22-cv-02638, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

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