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Thomas Kline: Settlement with Target, Hoverboard Biz in Pa. Fire Death of Two Young Girls For $38.5M

By P.J. D'Annunzio 

Law360 (February 16, 2024, 7:37 PM EST) -- The parents of two deceased girls, Target and a hoverboard maker entered into a $38.5 million settlement Friday resolving a lawsuit in Pennsylvania federal court over a self-balancing scooter that allegedly shorted out while charging and caused a house fire that claimed the sisters' lives.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Leeson Jr. signed off on the deal, noting in his opinion that the agreement was sound. The plaintiffs' attorneys are set to receive more than $15.5 million, 40% of the total settlement, leaving the parents with $22.9 million. 

"The court finds the parties have reached a substantial settlement after thoroughly litigating the case and engaging in significant discovery," Judge Leeson said in his opinion.

The judge approved an allocation of 80% of the award to the wrongful death claim and 20% for the survival claim for Abigail Baer and Brianna Kaufman, who died at age 10 and age 15, respectively.

Damien and Jennifer Lee Kaufman, their parents, originally sued New York-based Jetson Electric Bikes LLC and Walmart in September 2022. Walmart was let out of the case in October of that year, and a summons and amended complaint was filed against Target Corp. alleging that the Kaufmans bought the purportedly defective hoverboard from that retailer.

The plaintiffs alleged that Jetson and Target knew about the risk of injury and death posed by the hoverboard, but "proceeded to market and sell the Jetson Rogue Hoverboard anyway" without adequately warning consumers.

A battery defect caused the hoverboard to ignite in Abigail's room in April 2022, setting off a fire that spread through the rest of the house, according to the lawsuit.

Jennifer Lee Kaufman was able to escape the fire from her first-floor bedroom, and Damien Kaufman, who was in a detached garage when the fire began, could not enter the house because of the intensity of the blaze. The girls were trapped on the second floor.

"Plaintiffs, Jennifer Kaufman and Damien Kaufman, stood on the front lawn of their home and watched helplessly as plaintiff minor-decedents, Abigail Kaufman and Brianna Baer, awaited fire rescue," the complaint said. "Plaintiff minor-decedents, Abigail Kaufman and Brianna Baer, were retrieved by the Dewey Fire Department from the home's second floor and transported to St. Luke's Hospital."

The girls were pronounced dead at the hospital from smoke inhalation.

"We are pleased that this litigation has concluded and that our clients' advocacy helped achieve a recall through the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission of unsafe hoverboards in the United States," said Thomas R. Kline, who represents the plaintiffs.

An attorney for the defendants did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Damien and Jennifer Lee Kaufman are represented by Thomas R. Kline, Aaron L. Dunbar, Charles L. Becker and John P. O'Neil of Kline & Specter PC and Latisha M. Bernard of Barley Snyder, LLP.

Target and Jetson are represented by Eugene M. Laflamme, Jared B. Giroux and Roman G. Klaric of McCoy Leavitt Laskey LLC, John J. Snyder of Rawle & Henderson LLP, Dennis P. Ziemba of Eckert Seamans Cherrin & Mellott LLC and Francis J. Grey of Ricci Tyrrell Johnson & Grey.

The case is Kaufman et al. v. Jetson Electric Bikes LLC et al., case number 5:22-cv-03765, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

--Editing by Linda Voorhis. 


Target, Hoverboard Biz Settle Pa. Fire Deaths For $38.5M - Law360

$38.5 million settlement after deaths of girls blamed on hoverboard battery | Pennsylvania Record (

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