Flight Defect Prompts GoPro to Order Drone Recall

In what many are calling an unusual move, last week, tech company GoPro pulled all of its newly released Karma drones from the market. At the same time, they asked all consumers who had purchased the drone to return them to the company for a full refund. What made this move so unusual is that their action doesn’t technically qualify as a recall, in part because it is not certain that any government agency actually has jurisdiction or responsibility when drones start falling from the sky and damage property or people.

That is, after all, what prompted GoPro to make the move to pull the $800 drones from the market. The company discovered that “a small number” of the drones simply lost power while in operation and plummeted to the ground. To date, according to GoPro, no injuries or property damage has been linked to the device, but it’s early.

This was the first drone to be marketed by the manufacturer of sports cameras and it has only been available to consumers since October 23. To date, about 2,500 of the devices had been sold when they pulled it off the market. Even though the company has referred their action as a “recall,” the term may not fit. A recall is actually a legal process that gives a government agency oversight authority and which protects consumers in other ways. For example, when there is an official legal recall, it becomes illegal to sell the products being recalled.

However, when it comes to drones, there is no clear legal authority. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has denied that they have jurisdiction over drones. And while the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has full authority over how commercial and non-commercial drones are operated, they claim no authority to regulate the devices themselves, in that, unlike larger aircraft, they don’t yet “certify” drones. Their authority wouldn’t kick in until a manufacturing defect affected overall aviation safety.

GoPro tried to find out what to do after they discovered the problems with the Karma. They contacted both the CPSC and the FAA, which is how they discovered the above and then decided to enter into the “recall” in any case, believing that it was the right thing to do.  If more companies would act on their own to keep unsafe products off the market or to remove them before they’re forced to, consumers would be much safer and better off.

As part of their recall, GoPro is offering an incentive for those consumers who purchased a Karma to return the devices as soon as possible, in that they are providing them with a $350 value GoPro Hero5 Black camera, in addition to a full refund on the drone.

If you have one of these drones, we urge you to follow the recall instructions and send it back immediately. Defective products cause a lot of damage, as well as injuries and deaths, every year. If you or a loved one have been injured or suffered a wrongful death and you believe the cause was a defective consumer product of any kind, please contact the Defective Consumer Product Injury Lawyer atthe Hill Law Firm as soon as you can, so that we can get to the bottom of things and make sure those responsible are held accountable.

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