Francisco Garcia, a basketball player with the Sacramento Kings, was using a Gymnic Burst Resistant Plus Stability Ball during training camp. As he was balancing on the ball while performing a bench-press-type activity with dumbbells, the ball exploded suddenly. He fell to the ground with weights in each hand.
Garcia, 29, suffered a fractured right wrist with dislocation of the distal radioulnar joint. He underwent open reduction internal fixation surgery, including implantation of a metal plate, and missed most of the season’s games. Although he was able to resume playing with the team, he has had to learn how to shoot the ball differently because of restricted range of motion in his wrist. He has also had to alter his workout routine to avoid stress on the joint.
Garcia sued the Italian manufacturer of the exercise ball, Ledraplastic S.p.a.; and the distributors, M-F Athletic Co. and Ball Dynamics International, LLC, asserting strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty. The team also brought suit, seeking damages for the $4 million in salary it reportedly paid Garcia while he was injured, and the two cases were consolidated. The plaintiffs alleged, among other claims, that the defendants marketed the ball as being suitable for use with weights, as having a 600-pound capacity, and as being “burst resistant” when it failed under less than 600 pounds of force. The plaintiffs also asserted that the defendants were aware of the danger of using the ball with weights but failed to warn users. The plaintiffs were prepared to show that there were multiple prior lawsuits against the defendants in which the ball was alleged to have burst.
The parties settled for a confidential amount. As a condition of the settlement, the manufacturer agreed to circulate a letter reminding its distributors that Gymnic fit balls should never be used with weights and advising the distributors to forward the letter to their customers as soon as possible.
Citation: Garcia v. M-F Athletic Co., No. 2:10-cv-03210 (E.D. Cal. Oct. 17, 2012).
Kings’ counsel: AAJ member Roger A. Dreyer, Sacramento, Calif.
Garcia’s counsel: AAJ members Brian J. Panish and Robert S. Glassman, both of Los Angeles.