Several fans injured during the final-lap crash of Saturday’s DRIVE4COPD 300 are already in the process of suing Daytona International Speedway after parts of Kyle Larson’s car made it through the catchfence.
But will the defendants list soon include Larson’s car owner, Turner Scott Motorsports?
FOXSports.com has reported that NASCAR met earlier this week with Turner Scott representatives over possible illegal modifications to Larson’s chassis, meant to give it an aerodynamic advantage.
NASCAR has yet to announce any rules violations. But several attorneys contacted by As the World Turns (Left) said that if a violation is announced it’s quite possible Turner Scott will be dragged into the legal process along with the speedway.
“If it is found that Turner Scott Motorsports used a car with illegal modifications to it and those modifications contributed in any way to the crash that injured … the spectators, there would again be a strong likelihood of success against Turner Scott in a lawsuit,” Gary R. Roberts, Dean & Gerald L. Bepko professor of law at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, told As the World Turns (Left) in an email.
NASCAR and the speedway have begun a probe of the incident that will not include any government agencies and not require either to file reports with any public agency, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal. But a lawsuit against multiple entities could bring out more details of what happened.
“Lawyers are inclined to seek out as many defendants as possible. It increases the likelihood of recovering damages,” said Michael McCann, director of the Sports Law Institute at the University of Vermont Law School and sports law columnist for SI.com. “It encourages defendants to give information if they think they are in competition with others. If you only sue one, they might not be as willing to release information. If you sue five, they may be more cooperative.”
Daytona International Speedway is owned by International Speedway Corporation, a publicly traded company controlled by the France family — which also owns NASCAR, a privately held company. Since NASCAR actually runs the events and inspects car before the races, a suit including Turner Scott could pit governing body against team.
“[Turner Scott] could say, ‘We were able to race. Nobody stopped us. If it was so egregious why wasn’t it seen?’” McCann said. “That would be their argument.”
But Marc Edelman, a professor at Florida’s Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law — who also teaches sports law at Fordham — thinks along with Roberts that any civil action will be resolved before the parties get too deep in weeds as far as who exactly was at fault.
“We live in a litigious society,” Edelman said. “… Over 90 percent of lawsuits filed ultimately settle before trial My guess would be if fans sue based upon injury there will likely be a settlement early on in the case. It’s very unlikely will there be a full litigation.”
As far as the much-discussed fact that race tickets say fans assume a certain risk, Edelman added, “Merely putting words on the back of the ticket doesn’t absolve completely. It helps, but it doesn’t insulate entirely.”