SAN DIEGO (CN) – A mother sued organizers of The California 200 off-road race for the distress she suffered when she saw her son’s truck “veer off the racetrack … flip over, and kill eight people and injure dozens who were permitted to stand on or near” the track.
Lynne Sloppy sued MDR Productions, Mojave Desert Racing and the Bureau of Land Management, which leased the land where the race was held on Aug. 14, 2010.
She seeks damages for negligence and for the distress she suffered “when she witnessed her son, Brett M. Sloppy’s, truck veer off the racetrack at The California 200, flip over, and kill eight people and injure dozens who were permitted to stand on or near the racetrack.”
She claims the defendants failed to “control the crowd and protect the health, safety, and welfare of the racers and spectators at The California 200” because they should have known “vehicles in an off-road race would crash, roll over, and veer off the racetrack.”
The race in California’s Mojave Desert featured vehicles weighting up to 3,500 lbs. Sloppy says the race rules “required spectators to stay at least 100 feet from the racetrack,” and that “no one was to be at the portion of the racetrack known as the ‘Rock Pile’ where the racetrack turned and vehicles jumped through the air.”
Despite the rules, Sloppy says, spectators were allowed to stand a few feet from and on the racetrack and near the Rock Pile, “where the racetrack became more narrow, and the vehicles jumped through the air.”
There were no barriers “to prevent the spectators from encroaching upon the racetrack or to prevent the vehicles from veering off the racetrack,” the complaint states.
Sloppy says that as her son drove his 2000 Ford Ranger near the Rock Pile, “he noticed the driver of the vehicle in front of him had slowed down and fallen behind,” but he could not stop his own truck because there was another vehicle only seconds behind him. Nor could Brett swerve to the side of the track because there were spectators there, and he could not accelerate without hitting the racer in front of him, she says.
“As a result, plaintiff’s son decelerated and attempted to make the jump at the Rock Pile. Plaintiff witnessed her son’s truck land on a rock, causing his truck to flip and roll into and upon the spectators at the Rock Pile. Plaintiff witnessed bodies being thrown onto her son’s truck, heard the screams of injured and/or dying people, and witnessed her son’s emotional pain,” she says.
When Brett’s truck came to a halt on its roof, his mother saw “an angry mob of people revile her son as he was upside down in his truck. Plaintiff immediately rushed to her son’s aid, not knowing whether he was dead or alive, to pull him out of the truck.”
Lynne Sloppy claims that MDR and Mojave Desert Racing “recklessly directed the racers to stagger-start 15 seconds apart from each other, leaving no room for driver or other error,” and allowed “spectators to stand a few feet from and upon the racetrack.”
She says the defendants failed to place barriers around the racetrack to “prevent spectators from encroaching upon the racetrack,” and failed to provide security to keep spectators away.
She says they failed to “properly apply for and review the race permit application,” and failed to “monitor the event to observe compliance with the event plans and observe hazards or problems that were occurring or may occur and take action promptly to ameliorate or remove the hazards or problems.”
She seeks punitive damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence. She is represented in Federal Court by Kenneth Greenfield and Janice Walshok.