Widow Sues NASCAR for Lightning Strike


     PHILADELPHIA (CN) - NASCAR blew off a severe storm warning at the Pocono 400 race until the storm got so bad it had to stop the race, and 6 minutes later a fan was killed by lightning in the parking lot, his family claims in court.
     Brian Zimmerman was killed by lightning at 5 p.m. on Aug. 5, 2012, his widow Marion claims in the Court of Common Pleas. She sued Pocono International Raceway and NASCAR, on Aug. 1.
     Ten other people were injured by lightning, one of whom sued NASCAR and the Pocono Raceway in July.
     Zimmerman claims that NASCAR and the Pocono Raceway received a severe thunderstorm warning from the National Weather Service at 4:12 p.m., but they "did nothing" to stop the race or warn fans until 4:21, when they "attempted to use social media" to warn race fans of the approaching storm.
     Brian Zimmerman did not have access to social media at the raceway, his widow says.
     The defendants stopped the race at 4:54 p.m. At 4:59, they used social media again to warn fans to seek shelter. Brian was hit by lightning at 5 p.m. and died.
     "If defendants had stopped the race when they first received the severe weather warnings, plaintiff's decedent and others who were injured would have had sufficient time to seek shelter before being injured," the complaint states.
     In the July lawsuit, Jason Peneck's wife Erin claims her husband suffered "severe and permanent injuries, including, but not limited to, a traumatic brain injury, second degree burns, and dysautonomia."
     About 24,000 people are killed by lightning strikes each year and 240,000 are injured, according to a 2008 report from the National Severe Storms Laboratory.
     Marion Zimmerman seeks damages for negligence and wrongful death. She is represented by Thomas Comerford, with Foley, Comerford & Cummins.
     Peneck seeks damages for negligence and loss of consortium. She is represented by Sol Weiss, with Anapol Schwartz.