Peloton Recalls After Numerous Injuries, Faces Class Action Lawsuits
After 72 reports of adult users, children, pets and/or objects being pulled under the rear of the treadmill, Peloton recalled their Tread+ treadmill on May 5, 2021.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the treadmill has been linked to injuries including second-and third- degree abrasions, broken bones, and lacerations. In addition, a 6-year-old child was fatally injured after being pulled under the rear of the treadmill. Here, the Baltimore injury lawyers at Peter Angelos Law provide an overview of the incidents that have led to the recall, as well as legal actions that victims may be entitled to take.
Overview of the Peloton Recall
Currently, Peloton has recalled both the Tread+ as well as the Tread models of their treadmills. However, it was the Tread+ model that was linked to numerous injuries and one fatality.
The Tread+ recall involves Peloton’s Tread+ treadmill modelTR01. It was originally launched as the Peloton Tread in 2018, but renamed to Tread+ in September 2020. The treadmills have a running deck, a 32-inch high-definition touchscreen, and slatted belt.
Peloton’s Delay in Recall
Despite the Tread+ being tied to injuries and one death, Peloton delayed recalling the product. The company refused to provide federal safety regulators with the identity of the 6-year-old child who died in March, citing privacy concerns.
At the time of the child’s death, the CPSC was aware of 39 instances with the treadmill, citing that the incidents involved “multiple” or “dozens” of children, but did not give a specific number of children. They also stated that a majority of these incidents resulted in injuries, including the death of a 6-year-old.
The CPSC posted a video on its YouTube page of a child being pulled under a Tread+ treadmill. The Commission requested a recall of the machine.
In a press release, Peloton rejected the recall and said that the warning released by the Commission was “inaccurate and misleading.” According to Peloton’s data, 23 of the 39 injury-related incidents involved children, 15 included objects such as medicine balls and yoga balls, and one included a pet. Peloton chief executive John Foley said that the company had “no intention” of taking the Tread+ off the market.
At the time, Peloton stated that there was no reason to stop using the Tread+ as long as safety measures were taken. The company recommended keeping pets and children away at all times, turning the machine off when not in use and removing the safety key.
In response to Peloton’s rejection of a voluntary recall, the CPSC issued stronger safety recommendations for users. The Commission noted that in at least one incident, a child was pulled under the Tread+ while a parent was running on it, suggesting that the machine poses a risk to children even with an adult present.
If an individual wished to continue to use their Tread+, the CPSC recommended placing the machine in a locked room that children and pets did not have access to. In addition, the Commission suggested unplugging the treadmill when not in use and securing the safety key in a place where children could not access it. The Commission also noted that individuals should keep gym equipment such as yoga and medicine balls stored away from the Tread+.
Peloton faced strong backlash from consumers as a result of their failure to recall the Tread+. According to NASDAQ, Peloton stock prices dropped nearly 17% following the statement from Foley.
This is not the first time that Peloton found themselves facing scorn from consumers. In 2019, the brand received criticism for an ad that featured a husband giving his wife a Peloton bike for the holidays. Consumers saw the ad as having sexist undertones and felt that it was tone-deaf towards their primary consumer demographic: middle-aged women.
Although the ad had a negative reaction from Peloton’s largest market segment, the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic just months later boosted sales higher than they were before the ad ran. The closure of gyms and demand for in-home exercise equipment pushed Peloton back to the top of the market.
Legal and Federal Response
Peloton’s refusal to cooperate and issue a voluntary recall of their product was a unique course of action taken by a brand.
“You don’t very often see a company fight a federal agency like this,” said Kaitlin Wowak, an assistant professor of operations at Notre Dame University who studies product recalls said in a Washington Post article, “It’s not a good move.”
Although most products are taken off the market voluntarily, the CPSC does have the power to sue a company and force them to recall a product. According to officials, staff at the CPSC was preparing to bring a lawsuit against Peloton, demonstrating that they were prepared to pursue legal action to remove the Tread+ treadmill from the market.
Representatives of Peloton visited members in the office of Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who chairs the Senate subcommittee that oversees the CPSC. The meeting was described as an attempt to gauge the political support of the CPSC’s actions.
In addition, Peloton hired a new legal team to handle negotiations with the CPSC, shifting tactics to retain an attorney who used to work with the Commission and is known for a friendly approach to regulators.
After increased scrutiny from consumers and pressure from federal commissions, Peloton voluntarily recalled 125,000 Tread+ treadmills on May 5, 2021.
Through the recall, Peloton offered consumers full refunds or the option of keeping the Tread+ treadmill with improved safety software. For those individuals who wished to keep their machine, Peloton offered to move the unit anywhere in the individual’s home that children and pets would not be able to access, free of charge. In addition, Peloton ceased the sale of the Tread+ model.
Upon issuing this recall, Foley apologized for Peloton’s initial response to consumer injuries. “I want to be clear, Peloton made a mistake in our initial response to the CPSC’s request that we recall the Tread+. We should have engaged more productively from the outset,” said Foley, “For that, I apologize.”
Peloton introduced the required safety software in late May. The new software features the ‘tread lock’, which automatically locks the Tread+ after the machine is put to sleep or after 45 seconds of inactivity outside of class. The software is also featured in all new Tread+ units, which are back on the market.
Peloton Faces Consumer and Investor Lawsuits
Consumers injured by the Tread+ treadmill have filed a class-action lawsuit against Peloton, alleging that the fitness brand did not take appropriate action to prevent further injury to consumers.
The class-action lawsuit, Albright v. Peloton Interactive, Inc., alleges that Peloton’s advertisements that use pictures of a young woman with a young girl indicated that the product was safe to use around children. However, the lawsuit references the injuries to pets and children and alleges that the product has a design flaw that makes it unsafe to be used in the proximity of children.
In addition, investors have also brought a lawsuit against Peloton. Wilson v. Peloton Interactive Inc. alleges that Peloton failed to tell investors that its Tread+ model could potentially injure or kill children and pets. The lawsuits name Foley and chief financial officer Jill Woodworth as defendants.
Filling a Class Action Lawsuit
All consumers are entitled to a level of protection from brands, especially when brands market their products as safe or fail to adequately disclose any dangers to using their product. If your children, pets or property suffered a treadmill injury from Peloton’s Tread+ treadmill, you may be entitled to compensation through a class-action lawsuit. Contact the Baltimore attorneys at the Peter Angelos Law by calling 1-800-556-552 or by filling out the form below.
Sources for this article were gathered from The Washington Post, The Associated Press, NASDAQ, The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, and Peloton.