Under the transformative leadership of Mark Parker, Nike has made its driving mission to prove that a sneaker can never be too well-designed. But one psychopathic pimp would beg to differ. He says Nike sneakers are just too good at kicking people almost to death, which is why he’s suing the Oregon-based footwear designer for $100 million. It’s a frivolous case, but the circumstances under which it has been brought against Nike are highly unique, to say the least.
In June 2012, 26-year-old Sirgiorgiro Clardy repeatedly stomped in the face of a john who tried to leave a Portland hotel without paying, then robbed him, then turned his feet of fury to the 18-year-old prostitute who was servicing him. The john needed to have reconstructive surgery, while the woman in question was injured so badly she bled from her ears.
Needless to say, Clardy is not a nice guy. During his trial, Clardy was brought in like Hannibal Lecter, handcuffed to a wheelchair and wearing a mesh bag over his head so he couldn’t spit on or bite anyone. Perhaps understandably, given the circumstances, a court-appointed psychologist described Clardy during that same trial as “an anti-social psychopath who was 100% likely to commit violent crimes again.”
Clardy was found guilty, with prosecutors designating him a dangerous offender. And because he was wearing a pair of Air Jordans at the time, they argued that his sneakers could be considered a “deadly weapon.” Items that have previously been considered deadly weapons under Oregon law include boots, rope, telephone receivers, hot water, and HIV-infected blood. It’s a loose classification that allowed prosecutors to recommend a maximum sentence of 300 years in prison.
In the end, Clardy got off comparatively lightly, and received a 100-year prison sentence for his crimes. But in an unexpected wrinkle, the imprisoned pimp is now suing Nike, asking that he be awarded $1 million for every year of his sentence. His argument is simple: Nike’s sneakers are so good at curb-stomping victims, they should have a warning label on the box.
In a three-page handwritten complaint filed from the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution, Nike is accused of having failed to properly warn consumers that their sneakers could be used as a weapon that could case serious injury or death, especially when worn by a psycho like Clardy, who is representing himself in the case.
“Under product liability there is a certain standard of care that is required to be up-held by potentially dangerous product …” wrote Clardy. “Do (sic) to the fact that these defendants named in this Tort claim failed to warn of risk or to provide an adequate warning or instruction it has caused personal injury in the likes of mental suffering.”
In addition to $100 million in damages, Clardy is asking for an Oregon judge to order Nike to affix warning labels to all the company’s “potentially dangerous Nike and Jordan merchandise.”
Asked for comment, Nike representative KeJuan Wilkins told Co. Design: “We do not have comment on this matter.”
Given Oregon law, the plaintiff’s mental stability, and Nike’s resources, it’s unlikely Clardy’s lawsuit will go very far. Not only is the plaintiff a known psychopath, illiterate, and representing himself, but there’s a difference between affixing warning labels to products that could conceivably hurt the unwitting (such as a cup of hot coffee) and being liable for a criminal using your product as a weapon. It’s like saying that a sock manufacturer should have put warning labels on their knee-highs because a mafia hitman could fill them with quarters and break someone’s face open with one.
If by any miracle Clardy does win his suit, though, there’s at least one upside. Nike could spin its warning labels into a pretty killer new tagline: “Deadly by design.”