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Boozers consider lawsuit over bottle-throwing incident

Posted: Sunday, February 11, 2001

Two weeks after suffering a concussion because of debris thrown by students after the Duke-Maryland basketball game, former Juneau resident Renee Boozer is considering taking the University of Maryland to court for negligence. Meanwhile, the school is trying to negotiate a settlement, several newspapers reported Saturday.

Renee Boozer, the mother of Duke center and 1999 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate Carlos Boozer Jr., was hit by several pieces of debris following Duke's 98-96 come-from-behind overtime victory over Maryland Jan. 27 at Maryland's Cole Field House. According to reports after the game, Renee Boozer suffered a mild concussion when she was hit in the face by a full water bottle. The mothers of two other Duke players -- Jason Williams and Chris Duhon -- were also hit by debris, but Renee Boozer was the only one to require medical treatment.

"I received a letter from her attorney, and the university will be sued," University of Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow told a Wednesday night meeting of the school's student government association, according to the Diamondback, the student newspaper for Maryland. "They're claiming negligence charges because we knew our students were rowdy and we let them sit close to the court."

The debris was reportedly thrown from Maryland's student section. Yow told the student government group that while watching videotape of the incident, university officials and police counted more than 100 items being thrown during the 50 most intense seconds of the barrage. Yow was explaining new restrictions on fan behavior to the student government group.

"We are in tremendous jeopardy as an institution if we don't ensure it doesn't happen again," Yow said. "This was the real deal, different than anything I've seen here."

University of Maryland officials were supposed to meet Friday with Renee Boozer to watch the videotape of the incident. Police hope to identify the culprits by using special identification technology during the same meeting, the Diamondback reported.

The student newspapers for each university -- the Diamondback and the Duke Chronicle -- both reported a lawsuit has already been filed by the Boozers, but Maryland basketball sports information director Kevin Messenger said the suit had yet to be filed. Duke basketball SID Jon Jackson said his university is not making a comment on the potential lawsuit at this time.

The Baltimore Sun reported Friday that the Boozer family's attorney, James Curtain of Juneau, had yet to officially file a lawsuit in the matter. Quoting unnamed school sources, the Sun reported that Curtain sent a letter to University of Maryland general counsel Susan Bayly saying Maryland should compensate Mrs. Boozer for her medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, and general pain and suffering. No dollar amounts were specified.

The Boozer family, which now lives in Raleigh, N.C., could not be reached for comment Thursday and again on Saturday. Curtain was out of town and also could not be reached for comment Friday. Both Carlos Boozer Sr. and Renee Boozer graduated from the University of Maryland.

In an e-mail message, Messenger gave his university's official statement, "We are talking to representatives of the Boozer family about the incident, and we hope to come to a satisfactory mutual understanding in the near future. Through her attorney, Mrs. Boozer is seeking compensation from the incident related to her injury, although a formal lawsuit has not been filed."

According to the Chronicle, Duhon's mother Vivian Harper said within seconds after the final buzzer sounded at the Maryland-Duke game 13 of the 15 police officers and stadium officials guarding the Duke families fled the area, leaving the families defenseless under the barrage of debris thrown by fans. Harper said the two remaining security guards had the Duke families crouch down between the seats for protection until it was safe to escort them from the area.

Charles Bingham can be reached at cbingham@juneauempire.com.



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