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On Jan. 31, 14-year-old Aaron Farquharson was playing basketball during gym class at Miami Palmetto Senior High School. He was wearing a new pair of Nike Jordan Trunner 2000 cross-training sports shoes, which he had received for Christmas. At one point during the game, he jumped for a rebound. A thin piece of metal on the outside of one of his heels had come loose and protruded from the shoe, forming a sharp edge. As Farquharson returned to earth, the sliver of metal allegedly stabbed his calf, causing a gash that required 14 stitches. Since then, Nike USA Inc. has acknowledged the perils of this line of shoes. On Feb. 22, the company announced a nationwide recall of its Jordan Trunner LX and Jordan Trunner 2000 cross-training shoes, offering a store credit to anyone who returned the footwear. The shoes cost $100 to $125 a pair. Nearly 300,000 pairs have been sold. Feeling he deserved more than a store credit as compensation, Farquharson’s father, Leonard, a Miami-Dade police officer, called Kendall, Fla., attorney John W. McLuskey, a partner at the nine-lawyer firm McLuskey McDonald & Payne. McLuskey promptly shipped young Farquharson’s shoe to David Fried, a sports shoe expert in New York. “Our expert took one look at the sneaker and could tell that whoever designed it was not thinking straight,” McLuskey says. “This kind of accident was bound to happen.” So, just four days after Nike announced its recall, McLuskey filed a negligence and product liability suit in U.S. District Court in Miami against the Beaverton, Ore.-based company. The suit alleges that Nike “breached its duty of reasonable care” by negligently designing, constructing, manufacturing, testing and inspecting the shoes. “As direct cause of the negligence of Nike, plaintiffs suffered the injuries and damages,” the suit states. The suit also alleges that the “shoe was defective in manufacture in that it failed to keep the sharp metal strip in the heel area of the shoe from protruding from the shoe so as to create a sharp knife-like edge which caused injury when coming in contact with human flesh.” McLuskey hasn’t specified any damage figure yet. He hopes to get the suit certified for class-action status nationwide, which is why he filed it in federal court. This isn’t the first time Nike has had to recall a line of shoes because of a wayward piece of metal. In 1998, the company took back 350,000 pairs of the Nike Air Face Up basketball shoes because a decorative metal rivet on the outside of the shoe tended to bend and form a sharp edge. The company had received nearly 40 reports from young basketball players who complained about cuts on their lower legs. No class-action suit emerged from that recall. Ken Jiles, a spokesman for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in Washington, D.C., says Nike complied fully with federal law by publicly announcing its most recent recall and offering a refund. Officials at Nike’s corporate headquarters did not return phone calls seeking comment about the recall or about the Farquharsons’ suit. So far, the Farquharsons are the only clients named in McLuskey’s would-be class-action suit. But the Kendall attorney says he’s confident more will turn up. McLuskey hasn’t previously handled a class-action suit for a plaintiff, though he says he’s helped defend insurance companies against class-action suits. McLuskey plans to place newspaper ads around the country looking for people injured by the Nike shoes. He claims he’s not looking for a big payoff. “I really see this as almost a pro bono matter,” he says, adding that he took the case for the sake of “consumer rights.”

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