According to a local newspaper, the Sacramento Kings have filed a lawsuit against the parties involved with the manufacture and distribution of an exercise ball that led to a long-term injury for Kings forward Francisco Garcia in the 2009-10 season.
The $4 million product liability suit stems from an incident back in October, 2009 when an exercise ball supporting Garcia and 180 pounds of free weights burst, breaking the wrist of the then-27-year-old in the first of a five-year contract worth just under $30 million dollars.
As reported by The Sacramento Bee the basketball team’s lawsuit against the exercise ball company claims the product had been used properly by Garcia yet failed to deliver on a “600-pound capacity” promise.
Garcia had been laying on the exercise ball as per Rhode Island-based distributor Perform Better’s instruction while benchpressing 90-pound free weights in each hand, a typical exercise in any facility regardless of expertise. At under 200 pounds himself, the combined weight of Garcia and the dumbbells used was less than two-thirds of the 600-pound threshold.
As rare as the incident was, the fact that it involved a vulnerably-imbalanced man falling unexpectedly to the ground with 200 pounds of cast iron above him is concerning on a number of levels.
Team attorney Roger Dreyer has spearheaded the suit against the companies involved, identifying the Gymnic “Burst Resistant Plus” Stability Ball as the product at fault and requesting that it potentially be recalled. Since the incident the Kings have notified each of the other 29 NBA teams and removed all exercise balls from their own workout facility for fear of a repeat occurrence.
After sustaining the injury prior to the 2009-10 season, the otherwise healthy Garcia was held out of action until Feb. 16, 2010, prompting the club to seek compensation for the unnecessary four-month period he spent on the sidelines.
Fortunately for Garcia, since breaking his wrist, the 6’7″ defensive stopper has remained relatively injury-free and is now in the midst of his sixth year with the franchise.
Will the injury and forthcoming legal case serve as a precautionary tale for other teams who risk losing million dollar assets every time they rely blindly on the promise of a product? Perhaps more intriguing is how the following suit will unfold for the thousands of exercise equipment companies held responsible for the safety of the billion dollar professional sports industry.
Not only have the Kings targeted manufacturer Ledraplastic, but also distributors Ball Dynamics International and M-F Athletic Company as well, proving that there really is no escaping liability when it comes to player health.
On one hand you have companies benefiting enormously from their affiliation with franchises like the Sacramento Kings who provide a significant amount of business and publicity in potential endorsement deals but on the other hand are forever plagued by the paralyzing responsibility of ensuring that nothing ever goes wrong.
Though horribly unfortunate at the time and frightening to reimagine, the incident with Francisco Garcia could have been much worse. If all parties involved recognize and appreciate that fact, this could end up providing the necessary pressure to ensure the highest quality products and make sure something like this never happens again.