San Francisco, California, January 5, 2016 — Consumers from California, Colorado, and Wisconsin today filed a nationwide class action lawsuit against Fitbit, Inc. (NYSE: FIT) alleging that Fitbit’s wrist-based “Charge HR” and “Surge” heart rate monitors do not and cannot consistently record accurate heart rates during the intense physical activity for which Fitbit expressly markets the devices in widespread advertising. The suit contends—and expert testing confirms—that the Heart Rate Monitors consistently mis-record heart rates by a significant margin, particularly during intense exercise. Not only are accurate heart readings important for those engaging in fitness, they can be critical to the health and well-being of people whose medical conditions require them to maintain (or not exceed) a certain heart rate.
The complaint alleges that despite Fitbit’s claims made in national advertising—which include alluring slogans such as “Know Your Heart” and “Every Beat Counts” in high-visibility advertisements such as those that ran during the 2015 World Series (available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpdHMyvkJxw)—Fitbit’s Heart Rate Monitors do not accurately track users’ heart-rates, much less “count every beat,” particularly during the strenuous activities.
Plaintiff Kate McLellan explained, “I bought a Fitbit Charge HR because I am a serious fitness enthusiast, and I wanted to track my heart rate accurately and consistently while I exercised to help me exercise safely and meet my fitness goals. Fitbit’s ads made it clear that that is precisely what the Heart Rate Monitors are supposed to do. But in my experience, they do not, and when I complained to Fitbit, they refused to refund my money. I brought this case because the Fitbit Charge HR that I bought does not accurately and consistently track my heart rate during intense exercise, and because Fitbit refused to stand behind its promise. And I brought it as a class action because I am not alone—I have learned that many others have experienced exactly the same failures because the Heart Rate Monitors do not perform as promised.”
Robert Klonoff, one of the lawyers representing Ms. McLellan and the other Plaintiffs and a former Assistant to the Solicitor General of the United States, said that “Fitbit marketed these products through aggressive and widespread advertising to consumers who were not only deceived in the devices’ true functionality, but who also were put at a safety risk by trusting the Fitbit Heart Rate Monitors’ inaccurate measurements.” He added, “many thousands of consumers paid a premium to get accurate heart rate monitors, and instead got devices that do not work as promised.”
Lieff Cabraser partner Jonathan D. Selbin, also representing Plaintiffs, added that Fitbit tried to shield itself from being held accountable to consumers through use of a hidden arbitration clause and class action ban. “Those clauses—which purport to take away consumers’ constitutional rights to bring a lawsuit to protect themselves from fraud—are hidden on Fitbit’s website. They are brought to the attention of consumers who purchased at third party websites and retail locations only after they buy their Fitbits and visit Fitbit’s website to register them. Fitbit recently admitted in court documents in an unrelated case that the Fitbit devices cannot function properly without registering them on Fitbit’s website. And just by visiting that website, Fitbit purports to bind you to the arbitration clause and class action ban.” He added, “We believe that this practice, itself, is an unfair and fraudulent business practice and an example of the dangers of allowing companies to unilaterally impose arbitration clauses on unsuspecting consumers.”
The proposed class consists of all persons or entities in the United States who purchased a Fitbit Heart Rate Monitor (the Charge HR and Surge Fitbit products), excluding those who purchased their Heart Rate Monitors directly from Fitbit on Fitbit.com and who did not opt out of the arbitration agreement.
Background on the Fitbit Heart Rate Monitor Consumer Fraud Class Action Lawsuit
In late 2014, Fitbit announced wrist-based heart rate monitoring. This kind of monitoring is very attractive to consumers, and can help them achieve and maintain proper intensity, measure effort, track progress, and stay motivated. For those with certain health conditions, monitoring one’s heart rate can be essential to staying safe. Traditionally, accurate heart rate monitoring required a chest strap, which can be uncomfortable, distracting, and difficult to clean.
Fitbit claimed to have circumvented these problems with its new wrist monitors, bragging that it used LED lights to detect changes in capillary blood volume, then applied “finely tuned algorithms” to “measure heart rate automatically and continuously” and allow users to “accurately track workout intensity.” Fitbit employs this technology in the Charge HR and Surge devices and will be using the same technology in the successor to the Charge HR, the “Blaze,” which, according to reports, will be released in March 2016. Much to consumers’ chagrin, Fitbit’s voluminous advertising on these products does not state or even remotely suggest the technology works only at low or resting heart rates, if at all, and that reported rates from high-intensity activity are wildly inaccurate. To the contrary, Fitbit expressly markets the Heart Rate Monitors for activity and fitness, and its ads and other promotional materials depict them in use during high-intensity workouts. The lawsuit seeks to redress this widespread fraudulent marketing and misleading advertising. The products Fitbit’s consumers received are not the products Fitbit advertised.
The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief to compel Fitbit to cease its deceptive marketing and sales of the Heart Rate Monitors, as well as actual damages payments to class members to compensate them for their economic injuries from Fitbit’s fraudulent conduct. The suit also asks the court to require Fitbit to disgorge its unjust profits and make restitution to the Plaintiffs and the class members. Finally, the suit alleges that Fitbit’s conduct was systematic, repetitious, knowing, intentional, and malicious, and demonstrated a lack of care and reckless disregard for Plaintiffs’ and class members’ rights and interests, and thus warrants an assessment of punitive damages consistent with the actual harm it has caused, the reprehensibility of its conduct, and the need to punish and deter such conduct.
Legal Resources For Fitbit Owners
If you purchased a Fitbit Heart Rate Monitor (Fitbit Charge HR or Surge), you are welcome to visit our Fitbit Heart Rate Monitor lawsuit page to contact a consumer attorney at Lieff Cabraser. We welcome the opportunity to learn of your experiences with your Fitbit Heart Rate Monitor and answer any questions you may have about your legal rights.
About Lieff Cabraser
Recognized as “one of the nation’s premier plaintiffs’ firms” by The American Lawyer, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, has successfully litigated and settled hundreds of class action lawsuits in federal and state courts, including dozens of cases requiring manufacturers to remedy a defect, extend warranties, and refund to purchasers the cost of repairing the defective product. It has recovered billions of dollars for consumers in such cases. With sixty-plus attorneys in offices in San Francisco, New York, Nashville, and Seattle, we are among the largest law firms in the United States that represent only plaintiffs.