Indiana Race Track Attorney Argues Against Driver’s Death Suit

May 18, 2015

An attorney for the Anderson Speedway has asked a judge to grant summary judgment in a lawsuit accusing the central Indiana track’s owners of negligence in a driver’s 2011 crash death.

Attorney Leslie Pollie made the request Thursday during a Madison County court hearing on Kathy Mefford’s lawsuit. Mefford’s husband, 49-year-old William Mefford, died on May 21, 2011, from injuries he suffered when his car slammed into a retaining wall during a race at the track.

Kathy Mefford’s attorney, Matthew McConnell, opposed summary judgment because it would effectively lead to a dismissal of her case, The Herald Bulletin reported.

Her suit against the track’s corporate body, Action Entertainment, alleges that it “acted negligently, with gross negligence, in a willful and wanton manner, and in heedless and conscious disregard for the safety of race participants.”

The suit said a compression barrier on the third turn of the quarter-mile track wasn’t filled with a “special energy-absorbing foam.”

Mefford, a Knightstown resident, died from blunt force injuries to his head and chest while taking part in a race.

A mechanical malfunction apparently caused his car to accelerate on the back straightaway leading into the third turn, and his speed on impact was estimated at 75 to 100 mph.

Pollie told Madison County Circuit Court Judge Angela Warner Sims that while Mefford’s death was tragic, he was an experienced driver who knew “auto racing is an inherently risky activity.” Pollie said that when Mefford signed a comprehensive waiver of liability, he demonstrated that he understood those risks and agreed not to hold Action Entertainment, Anderson Speedway and sponsors and race promoters responsible for injuries or damages.

McConnell said there was no evidence of a “meeting of the minds,” between Mefford and Action Entertainment, alluding to a tenet of contract law in which two parties mutually agree to the same thing.

Sims took the arguments under advisement and said she would issue a ruling soon.

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