The mother of a 9-year-old who lost his fingertip to an adjustable basketball backboard is suing the manufacturer in Baltimore County Circuit Court, alleging that the design of the pole on the Wilson "Aggressor" backboard is dangerous to the children for whom it's intended.
Susan Bostic of the 8000 block of Mid Haven Road in Dundalk said her son, James Ray Bostic, was playing at a neighbor's home on April 4, 1991, when he tried to lower the net so he and fourfriends could slam-dunk the ball.
"Suddenly and without warning, the heavy backboard dropped, acting like a guillotine" and severing the boy's right ring finger above the first knuckle, according to the lawsuit. Now, said attorney Jay D. Miller, other children "call him 'Stubby' and other names."
The Aggressor backboard adjusts from 4 to 10 feet high and is intended for ages 8 to 18, Mr. Miller said. He said that although instructions that come with the set say that a pole with a notched tip should be used to raise or lower the backboard, the set itself bears no warning that such a pole should be used. He noted that the backboard bears a warning against hanging on the rim.
A call yesterday to J & L Sports Equipment Co. of Schiller Park, Ill., which manufactures the backboard for Wilson, was not returned.
In the suit, Ms. Bostic seeks compensatory damages of as much as $1 million on various counts for herself and her son from the manufacturer, and from the Ames Department Store in Diamond Point Plaza where the neighbor bought the set -- and returned it after the accident. Store officials declined comment and no one could be reached at company headquarters. The claims include product liability for allegedly faulty design, negligence by the maker and the seller, and breach of warranty, because the product is marketed for children but allegedly is not safe for them.
LTC Ms. Bostic said her son, a fourth-grader at Bear Creek Elementary, is "doing pretty good" since the accident. "He just had surgery again Nov. 21," his second operation on the finger, she said. However, she said, "He has nightmares and the kids tease him -- even the ones who were there. Kids can be cruel, you know."