Could Zion Williamson Sue Nike?

Photo of Ciro Samperi

Duke University's star freshman basketball player, Zion Williamson, suffered a knee injury during a game between Duke and North Carolina. The injury seemed to occur when his Nike shoe appeared to tear as he planted his foot. Williamson, thought by many to be a top NBA draft pick, left the game and did not return. This begs the question: if Williamson suffered a career ending injury, could Williamson sue Nike?

The laws in each state vary. However, in general a "product liability" case can be based on any of the following theories: 1) a design defect in the product, 2) a manufacturing defect in the product, or 3) the manufacturer failed to provide a proper warning relating to the product's use.

To succeed under a theory of design defect, Mr. Williamson would likely be required to prove that not only was the design of his shoe unsafe, but that: 1) a less dangerous design could have been used, 2) use of the alternative design would have been reasonable from a financial and technological standpoint, and 3) the alternative design would have kept most of the product's use and utility, while reducing risk of injury. This could be a tall order for any potential plaintiff to fill. Undoubtedly, expert opinion and testimony would be required to attack any type of design defect within Mr. Williamson's shoe.

Mr. Williamson might explore a "manufacturing defect" theory. This type of case can usually be pursued when there is an error in either the quality control or production of a product. Mr. Williamson would face a difficult task. Often the product is damaged or destroyed from the manufacturing defect. Again, an experienced expert would need to examine the actual damaged shoe and opine as to the defect.

In short, Zion Williamson could sue Nike if he can prove either a design or manufacturing defect in the Nike shoe in question. Additionally, Mr. Williamson would be required to show the shoe ultimately caused his injury and caused him to suffer damages.

If you or someone you know has been injured by a product, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 1‑800-594-4884.

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