Peloton is an exercise machine manufacturer that focuses its marketing on tablets built into their equipment. These tablets provide video workout routines for the consumer to follow. In March of 2021, Peloton released a warning to keep small children and pets away from two of their treadmill products- the Tread and the Tread+. One month later, the CPSC (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) told parents of small children to quit using the treadmills altogether. Roughly one month after that, a small child was tragically killed by a Peloton treadmill.
Both the Tread and Tread+ support sleek, compact designs. The conveyor belt on each is exposed. Many competing treadmill designs have their belts tucked away behind a plastic shell. The belt is also higher off the ground than many other models, just the right size for a small person to get stuck underneath. The concern with the Peloton machines is that children and pets can get too close to the belt and be pulled under. While in operation, treadmill conveyor belts move fast. If a child or a pet rested some part of their body against the belt, the traction and velocity could suck them underneath, trapping or crushing them. This is exactly what happened to a small child in early May of 2021.
There have been over 70 other reports of injuries sustained from either the Tread or Tread+, including adults, children, and pets. Peloton CEO John Foley initially responded to these accusations by blaming the consumer. Essentially, his message was that the treadmills were completely safe as long as people used them correctly. After the highly publicized death of the small child, Foley’s story changed. “I want to be clear, Peloton made a mistake in our initial response,” Foley said in an interview.
Peloton will be offering full refunds to Tread and Tread+ owners until November 6, 2022. After that, the company will offer only partial refunds. These treadmills are quite heavy, and Peloton is also offering to move, free of charge, the treadmills to a safe place in the home. This option exists for consumers who want to keep their treadmills. For those owners, Peloton will also release a software upgrade that locks the treadmill until a code is punched into the tablet.
Peloton has also been dealing with a separate recall issue on its treadmills. Many touchscreens have become dislodged, falling off and hurting consumers.
In personal injury law, you can sue the manufacturer of a dangerous product. There are a few different claims you can make for a defective product. In the case of the Peloton machines, owners can sue for a design flaw. Design flaws happen with products that work exactly as intended and are built properly. The flaw is that the engineering of the product is dangerous. In the case of the Tread and Tread+, the exposed belt creates an unintended, dangerous environment.
A successful product liability case shows the court that the consumer suffered an injury while correctly using the product. For the over 70 people who were injured, they must counter Peloton’s original claim that they misused the treadmills. It may even be possible to use that statement against Peloton in court. This argument could demonstrate that Peloton released a dangerous product, believing it was safe.
If the injured parties suffered in similar ways, it may be possible for them to join together in a class-action lawsuit. This is a large lawsuit where one person acts as the plaintiff, representing the entire group. When a group wins a class-action suit, everyone involved receives compensation. If the injuries are dissimilar, plaintiffs can engage in multi-district litigation (MDL). This is another way to group the lawsuits together, making the workload easier on the court.
In the unfortunate case of the child who was killed, the parents may have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death suits are a kind of personal injury case where the hurt party does not survive their injuries. The parents could be compensated for the pain and suffering of losing their child. If the emotional trauma led to lost work or lost wages, the parents could include that in the damages, as well.
If you’ve been injured by a defective exercise machine, call us today at (941) 960-7225, or reach out online. We have the experience and skill to investigate your case and seek damages from the product’s manufacturer.