Court rules against track day driver who sued Laguna Seca – Roadracing World Magazine

Monterey County, Calif. Superior Court Judge Thomas W. Wills issued a ruling statement in favor of Laguna Seca Raceway Monterey County owner and then-operating partner SCRAMP (Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula) in a multimillion-dollar civil lawsuit brought by runway pilot Daniel Kim, Jr.

Kim was taking part in a track day on March 14, 2015, when he came off the track surface at turn five, hit a sandbag or sandbags used to ward off water erosion and dirt from the track surface and suffered serious injuries.

In 2016, Kim (who had signed liability waivers and had rolled, raced off-track and even crashed during track days at Laguna Seca Raceway prior to the 2015 incident, according to the ruling statement) sued the track day organizer. [email protected]Monterey County and SCRAMP for negligence due to the use of sandbags in a runway runoff area, among other things.

A key element of the successful defense was the involvement of attorney (and former motorcycle racer) Stephen L. Hewitt. Hewitt was first retained by the insurance company used by [email protected]and the Southern California-based attorney has crafted an extensive defense strategy based on his experience in motorcycle racing and his expertise in disclaimers and the law.

During the trial, the plaintiff rejected [email protected] of the trial, in what may have been an attempt to remove Hewitt from the case, but the insurance company continued to pay Hewitt to consult with defending attorneys Monterey County and SCRAMP.

“This case was difficult to defend because I knew it was so important. It was very personal,” Hewitt told Roadracingworld.com. “This case could have meant the end of a track day’s driving or it could have really changed the driving of a track day due to the situation with the cost of insurance. Keigwins went out of business because of it.

In a detailed decision statement dated April 6, 2022, Judge Wills wrote:

“In summary, and for the reasons set forth above, the Court finds that there was neither gross negligence nor ordinary negligence on the part of the SCRAMP defendants and the County of Monterey which contributed to the plaintiff’s injury.

“There was no extreme departure by either defendant from what a reasonably prudent person would do in the same situation to avoid harm to others. Nor was there any breach of due diligence. There was no failure by either defendant to exercise due diligence in the design, maintenance, operation or inspection of the track or of its surroundings; and no causal link existed between any failure to warn, inspect the runway surroundings or investigate prior accidents and the plaintiff’s collision. None of the defendants unreasonably increased a risk to the plaintiff beyond the risks inherent in track day activity; and none of the defendants unreasonably failed to minimize risks not inherent in the business or unreasonably exposed the plaintiff to an increased risk of harm. There was no causal connection between a lack of financial supervision, lack of financial management or financial problems on the part of the defendant and the plaintiff’s collision. In view of the foregoing, the Court need not find or assess a percentage of comparative fault on the part of the plaintiff. »

A hearing will be held in May to give the complainant the opportunity to object to the court’s decision, but the outcome of the hearing is not expected to have a significant impact on the case.

“I think it is doubtful that the court would support any of the [the objections]”, Hewitt said. “There might be a minor language change or two, but the plaintiff will have the opportunity to challenge the ruling statement. Once that challenge at the trial court level is complete, through a series of proceedings, that decision will become the judgment. The plaintiff’s attorney will then have the right to appeal. I don’t think they will.

Read the full decision statement below. Use the scroll and zoom tools in the lower left corner of the PDF viewer to better see all the pages of the document.

Decision Kim v. Monterey County_16CV001236

Earnest L. Veasey