Archive for the ‘Promoter’ Category

Pit Road Penalty – Release Agreements Enforceable But Not to Bar Negligent Bleacher Maintenance Claim (NY)

May 4, 2015

Stevens v. Payne (NewYork)
(trial court opinion)

The plaintiff was injured while watching his daughter compete as a race care driver at a racetrack in New York.  Plaintiff suffered a heart attack and fell off of bleachers landing six feet below onto the ground, resulting in permanent paralysis of his legs.  He then sued the racetrack (Skyline Raceway) and the sprint car sanctioning entity (Capital Region Sprintcar Agency [“CRSA”]), alleging there was a dangerous condition on the bleachers because they lack side railing.  CRSA file a motion for summary judgment on tow grounds: (1) it did not owe a duty to plaintiff for the condition of the bleachers because it neither owned nor controlled them; and (2) the plaintiff’s cause of action was barred by the two waiver and release agreements signed by the plaintiff (one signed for the CRSA in connection with the race car entry, and one signed for Skyline at the event on the day of the incident).

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The Shaft

August 29, 2012

Nesbitt v. NMCA, et. al (Illinois – pending)
(A drag racer injured when a driveshaft broker and entered the cockpit is suing multiple parties, including the racing association, the sanctioning body, and the chassis manufacturer.)

CompetitionPlus.com recently posted a story here about the lawsuit filed in Cook County Court.  The article includes an initial response from the National Muscle Car Association (“NMCA”).  The NMCA is not surprised about the lawsuit considering the current state of the judicial system and is very confident in its ability to defend the claim, particularly in light of the waiver and release agreement signed by Nesbitt prior to participation.

NOTE: Legal claims that arise out of these types of incidents that appear to derive from nothing more than the risks inherent in a dangerous sporting activity like motorsports are obviously a significant reason for inconsistency and high cost associated with sports insurance products.

Coverage Denied for Injury to Motorsports “Participant”

January 19, 2011

T.H.E. Insurance v. Cochran Motor Speedway (Georgia)
(Minor in the pit area of a racetrack deemed to be a participant; insurance coverage denied due to a participant exclusion.)

A stepfather and his minor daughter attended a racing event at the defendant’s racing facility.  The stepfather purchased pit passes for himself and the minor, and he signed a waiver and release from liability and indemnity agreement on their behalf.  The stepfather had some sort of affiliation with one of the racing team’s that happened to be crowned the winner of the local points championship on the evening in question.  The team decided to celebrate the championship by driving the racecar back onto the racetrack to the front straightaway.  The minor daughter was placed on top of the car and it began to drive onto the racetrack.  While it was moving, she fell from the car and was injured.  The minor daughter then filed a lawsuit against the racetrack, its owner, and the driver of the race car to recover for her personal injuries.  The racetrack submitted the claim to its insurance company, which denied coverage and filed a claim for declaratory relief.  Eventually, the plaintiff insurer filed a motion for summary judgment based upon exclusions in the policy, and the Court granted the motion. (more…)

Not Making the Grade

November 26, 2007

Harris v. I-44 Lebanon (Missouri)
(Late Model Race Car Driver Injured While Racing on a Dirt Track When a Large Rock Hit His Helmet; Motion for Summary Judgment Based on Waiver and Release Denied; Defense Verdict Issued After Trial)

The case involved late model racing on an oval dirt track in Lebanon, Missouri. The Plaintiff was a 51-year-old lifelong dirt track racer who was injured in 2003 when he was struck by a rock in the mouth area of his helmet during a late model dirt track race.

Roughly five months before this accident, the Lebanon I-44 Speedway was converted from an asphalt track to a dirt race track, which involved laying dirt over the asphalt surface. The initial batch of dirt was unsatisfactory so the track preparer, Randy Mooneyham, removed this dirt and put an entirely new type of dirt on the track. After it was placed on the track, he then used a rock picker, a rock rake and a grader to work the debris out of the track and pack it down throughout the 2003 season. Plaintiff raced on the track several times during 2003 before his accident.

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Hitting the Slopes

November 7, 2007

Berry v. Greater Park City Company (Utah)
(Experienced Skier in Competition Breaks Neck and Suffers Paralysis; Release Enforceable to Preclude Liability for Ordinary Negligence; Triable Issues of Fact Existed Regarding “Gross Negligence”; Dismissal of Strict Liability Claim was Proper)

The plaintiff was a twenty-six year old expert skier who entered a “skiercross” race which took place on a course constructed on the defendant’s ski runs. In the “skiercross” race format, four racers simultaneously descended a course that featured difficult turns and tabletop jumps. The racers competed against each other as they skied down the mountain to complete the course first. On plaintiff’s fourth trip down the course, he attempted to negotiate a tabletop jump. Upon landing from the jump, he fell and fractured his neck, resulting in permanent paralysis. Before being allowed to participate in the contest, plaintiff was required to sign a “Release of Liability and Indemnity Agreement,” which purported to release defendant from negligence liability. Although plaintiff did not read the agreement, he signed it twelve days before the race.

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