A jury in Jefferson County, Ala., returned a verdict last month in a case that arose out of a race track accident. Sutton Helvey-Chandler, a 33-year-old motorcyclist in the novice class, was training on the Barber Motorsports race track in Leeds for an event known as “Track Day.” The track had been leased for “Track Day” by Zoom Motorsports, LLC., and the event was organized and run by Ed Bargy Racing, LLC. Helvey-Chandler’s husband, Russell, was also running practice laps. While Helvey-Chandler rode her motorcycle around the track, a corner marshal named Holley Hance ran onto the track to remove a dead bird that was littering the track. Hance, who had been trained by a company known as Flagging by Faynisha, LLC, ran directly into Helvey-Chandler’s path, and she struck him.
Both Hance and Helvey-Chandler were killed. The estate of Helvey-Chandler filed suit against Ed Bargy Racing, Zoom Motorsports, and Flagging by Faynisha and blamed them for Helvey-Chandler’s death. The estate’s theories included negligence and wantonness. The estate offered into evidence racing guidelines that stated that corner marshals should “never enter a hot track without permission from race control.”
Flagging by Faynisha obtained summary judgment in its favor after discovery was performed and Plaintiffs conceded Flagging by Faynisha had not been supervising Hance on the day of Helvey-Chandler’s death. Ed Bargy Racing and Zoom Motorsports argued that Helvey-Chandler was at fault for the collision. Eyewitnesses, including another rider on the track and an accident reconstructionist, testified to show that Helvey-Chandler did all she could to avoid striking the corner marshal in front of her.
The Defendants also argued the corner marshal might have made a mistake in judgment, but that his conduct did not rise to the level of wantonness. They claimed that punitive damages were not appropriate under the circumstances. The jury disagreed as to Ed Bargy Racing and awarded the estate a verdict of $10,000,000 against that Defendant. The jury returned a defense verdict as to Zoom Motorsports. David Marsh and Rip Andrews, both with the Birmingham firm of Marsh Rickard & Bryan, represented the Plaintiff in this case. They did an excellent job for the victim’s estate.
Source: The Alabama Jury Verdict Reporter
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