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Majority of Heart Rate Tracking Lawsuit against Fitbit to Proceed

Northern District of California Judge James Donato maintained the majority of a false advertising lawsuit against Fitbit Inc. ("Fitbit") on June 5, 2018, dismissing only plaintiffs' claim for unjust enrichment, finding that it could not be asserted as a standalone claim.

The suit, brought by 13 consumers, alleges that Fitbit advertised the ability of its activity trackers to determine heart rate, but that the devices fail to do so accurately and consistently during intense exercise. Furthermore, the complaint claims that because Fitbit lead its own research on its "PurePulse" heart rate tracking technology, the company should have been aware of the underperformance of its devices as heart rate monitors. Plaintiffs assert that the class they represent consists of millions of people who purchased a falsely-advertised Fitbit device.

Plaintiffs plan to amend their complaint with the specific false advertising statements. Counsel for plaintiffs commented that they were "gratified that the judge agreed that the marketing we alleged was fraudulent...We look forward to proving our claims."

One named plaintiff, Rob Dunn, provided an image of Fitbit's packaging at a hearing which showed the product was advertised as a "continuous heart rate" and an "automatic, 24/7 wrist-based heart rate" monitor, and alleged he relied on this advertisement when purchasing the device.

Judge Donato noted that, so long as plaintiffs amend the complaint to include the above advertising statements as well as allegations of reliance, the suit will proceed. He characterized the complaint as "replete with examples of actionable 'misdescriptions of specific or absolute characteristics of a product,'" and determined plaintiffs adequately claimed Fitbit's devices' failure to accurately read heart rates as advertised.

The legal team at Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLP ("SFMS") has significant experience litigating consumer fraud matters. If you have any questions regarding this subject or this posting, please contact Nick Lussier ([email protected]) or Chiharu Sekino ([email protected]). We can also be reached toll-free at (866) 540-5505.

SFMS is a law firm with offices in California, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. SFMS is an active member of Integrated Advisory Group (www.iaginternational.org), which provides us with the ability to provide our clients with access to excellent legal and accounting resources throughout the globe. For more information about our firm, please visit us at www.sfmslaw.com.

Sources

Graf, Rachel. "Fitbit Must Face Bulk Of Heart Rate Tracking Suit." Law 360. Last modified on June 5, 2018.

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