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Lawsuit Accuses Peloton of Negligence in Death of NY Man
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Sep 19, 2023, 3:44 PM ET
Family alleges popular exercise manufacturer was negligent in promoting its bike as fit for use in stretching, leading to fatal accident. by Nadia El-Yaouti
The lawsuit was filed in March 2023 in the Kings County (Brooklyn) Civil Supreme Court but only came to light following a report by The Daily Beast earlier this month. The case is Johanna Furtado for Ryan Furtado v. Peloton Interactive Inc., case number 507437/2023,
According to the lawsuit, 32-year-old Ryan Furtado was working out on his Peloton bike on January 13th, 2022, when he moved to the floor to do some “core” exercises. After his floor exercises, Furtado used the bike to help pull himself up, but once he grabbed onto it, the bike “spun around,” hitting his neck and face. Furtado was killed instantly after the impact of this bike severed his carotid artery.
The lawsuit alleges that it was the “defective and unreasonably dangerous conditions” that existed at the time of the incident that caused her son's death and that Peloton’s negligence began with the wrongful design of the machine and weaved through the product development process, including the way it was tested, manufactured, engineered, distributed, and marketed.
“Products liability law often hinges on whether a product is defective and whether that defect caused the injury,” said Leandros A. Vrionedes, a New York personal injury and wrongful death attorney who is not involved in this lawsuit, adding that “the focus should be on whether the bike was designed in a way that made it inherently dangerous, irrespective of how it was used.”
The complaint also alleges that the warning label, which was only on the front right leg of the bike, was inadequate, stating, “There should have been more labels attached to the stem and base to adequately warn the user of injury that could occur if the subject bike is used to pull oneself up from the floor during a workout.” Furthermore, Peloton trainers who conduct workouts tell users that they can use their bikes for stretching without including warning instructions that in doing so, the bike becomes unreasonably dangerous when users apply pressure on the bike as the bike can become destabilized and fall if a user is pulling or pushing on the bike.
“Manufacturers have a duty to warn consumers about non-obvious risks. If Peloton trainers are instructing consumers to use the bike in a way that could make it unstable, the company has a duty to provide clear warnings about that risk,” Vrionedes said.
Peloton is also being accused of failing to test or properly inspect the bike to ensure it is reasonably safe and suitable for its intended purpose. The complaint calls the Peloton bike “unreasonably dangerous in its manufacturing and design” and “unreasonably dangerous beyond the reasonable consumer's expectation” and that the bike “was not reasonably fit, suitable, or safe for its intended or represented purpose.”
The complaint maintains that Peloton “had a duty to exercise reasonable care to test, inspect, service, sell, supply, and market the Subject Bike so that it was reasonably safe when utilized in an intended, reasonably anticipated, and reasonably foreseeable manner, so as not to subject users and consumers to an unreasonable risk of harm.”
By failing to adequately test, adequately inspect, and include adequate warnings about the bike, among other negligent actions, the lawsuit alleges that Peloton breached its duty to exercise reasonable care. The lawsuit seeks damages, including funeral and burial expenses, health care expenses, interest on damages, and other economic and non-economic damages.
The lawsuit, which was filed by Furtado's mother, Johanna Furtado, alleges that Peloton should be held responsible for its negligence. However, the company claims that Furtado’s own negligence caused the accident.
“Peloton's defense that Furtado's own negligence caused the accident is a common one in products liability cases. However, even if Furtado was partially at fault, that doesn't absolve Peloton of its responsibility if the product was, in fact, defectively designed or lacked adequate warnings,” Vrionedes added.
This is the first time Peloton's flagship stationary bike has been involved in a death, but it’s not the first time the company has come under scrutiny for product safety.
In March 2021, Peloton recalled all of its Peloton Tread+ and Tread treadmills when a six-year-old child was killed after getting entrapped in the equipment. Over 70 injuries had also been tied to the treadmill.
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