Los Angeles, California, December 18, 2013 – – A global settlement of $5.825 million was finalized yesterday and will be paid to the families of eight people who were killed and 12 people who were injured, as a result of the August 14, 2010 California 200 off-road race tragedy at Johnson Valley in the California desert.
A total of eight people were killed and dozens were injured when a modified 2000 Ford Ranger lost control and barreled into the spectators gathered around The California 200 track.
The United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has agreed to pay the bulk of the settlement, $4.825M, and the race organizers and promoters Mojave Desert Racing, Inc., and Mojave Desert Racing (MDR) Productions, Inc. (MDR Productions), will pay their insurance policy limits of $1M.
The Bureau of Land Management conducted an internal review after the disaster, which showed a complete breakdown in the oversight of off-road spectator events. As a result of the crash, the BLM has revamped its policies and procedures for such races so that, it is hoped, the spectators can still enjoy the sport, yet do so safely.
“It is our hope that this settlement, along with BLM’s safety improvements, will ensure these fun events can still go forward, but in a manner that is safe for all spectators and fans,” stated an attorney from Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman, representing three spectators injured and the father of one of those killed.
Baum Hedlund took a leadership role in the complex discovery process of this case which entailed following very exact and complex federal rules of procedure. The firm ensured that not only their clients benefited, but all of the claimants, by combing through a plethora of materials, public documents, and others claimants’ documents, and compiling a massive amount of information from this extremely large event into a synthesized compilation presented to the U.S. Attorneys on behalf of all plaintiffs.
The lawsuits Baum Hedlund had filed in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, alleged that the race was negligently and recklessly managed, supervised, and operated by the BLM and MDR Productions. Further, the suits alleged that the large group of spectators that gathered near the track to watch the race should never have been allowed to be so close to the track. The suits also stated that the BLM failed in its mandatory duty to insist that the race promoter complies with permitting requirements. Further, BLM failed to intervene and insist, per its policies, that spectator areas be clearly marked with temporary fencing to keep crowds at a safe distance from the off-road racing vehicles. The BLM also failed to adequately staff the event, the lawsuits said, adding that there was only one law enforcement ranger near the course and there was no emergency medical service available near the site. Because of this grossly negligent oversight, the suit says, it took over 30 minutes for emergency crews to arrive at the scene.
About Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman
The national law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman, based in Los Angeles, has represented over 8,000 people across the nation in personal injury and wrongful death cases. The firm is listed in Martindale Hubbell’s Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, The Best Lawyers in America®*, 2013 Top Ranked Law Firms TM, and U.S. News & World Report Best Lawyers® 2014 Best Law Firms.
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