Honda website
Honda website

NOVEMBER 29, 2000

A case worth watching

THE families of Greg Moore and Gonzalo Rodriguez have filed wrongful death suits against CART at the San Bernardino County Court in California. The two families are claiming that CART was negligent because the organization's safety standards did not provide for sufficient barriers to protect the drivers. Rodriguez died in an accident at Laguna Seca in September 1999 when his car became airborne and missed tire barriers protecting a concrete wall. The car hit the top of the wall and then flipped over the barriers and landed upside-down. Moore's accident came only a few weeks later when he spun and his car rolled when it hit the trackside grass. The car was still rolling when it smashed into a concrete retaining wall. Moore's family, which is also seeking damages from the International Speedway Corporation, claim that CART should have insisted that the run-off area was paved.

CART and ISC are both believed to be heavily insured against legal actions but the cases may provide precedents for the future.

Legal actions are not unusual when spectators are killed but it is rare that claims are made involving drivers. In 1980 Tom Pryce's widow Nella sued the Kyalami circuit in South Africa for damages, alleging negligence in the accident which claimed the life of her husband during the South African GP of 1977. The case was settled out of court. Soon afterwards Clay Regazzoni sued the organizers of the Long Beach GP claiming damages after he was paralyzed in an accident at the track in 1980 but the cased was rejected by a Los Angeles court.

In 1984 Eden Donohue won a case against Goodyear claiming damages because of a tire failure which caused the death of her husband Mark Donohue in Austria in 1975. She was awarded $26m in damages by an American court but Goodyear appealed the decision and there was an out-of-court settlement.