Mr. Sloppy Plows Truck Into Crowd and Kills Eight Bystanders

The death of eight people and injuring of dozens of others at the California 200 desert race races some serious liability questions. The accident occurred after Brett M. Sloppy, 28, (unfortunate name in this instance) lost control of his modified 2000 Ford Ranger and went airborne. He landed on people standing dangerously close to the open track.

The 200-mile race is held on Soggy Dry Lake on federal lands east of the San Bernardino Mountains. The trucks race along a 50-mile-long loop four times. Videos show the crowd dangerously close to the trucks as they roar by — many drinking heavily. As a matter of negligence, factual and legal causation would appear fairly easy to establish with people allowed to stand just a few feet from trucks speeding along the twisting track. There is a serious question of assumption of the risk. To make matters worse, there appears to have been insufficient medical staff present. It took 30 minutes for emergency crews to get to the remote location. There is however the question of whom to sue beyond the driver himself. These contests are loosely organized but it is sanctioned by the Mojave Desert Racing organization.

This particular spot is called the “rock pile’’ where trucks snake around boulders and are known to go airborne.

After the accident, Sloppy had to be escorted away as the crowd became angry and threatening.

Sloppy stated on his facebook page that he is devastated by the accident: “Soo incredibly lost and devistated my thoughts and prayers go out to all the familys and friends involved. Thank you too all my friends for sticking with me even thru these tragic times I love you all.”

Source: LA Times

8 thoughts on “Mr. Sloppy Plows Truck Into Crowd and Kills Eight Bystanders”

  1. In response to Mack. I actually agree with you for the most part that more than likely he has little to no liability based on the nature of the sport i.e. fast airborne cars, tightly packed roadside, fast speeds. However, every other car there managed to make it through without hitting anyone and that I think gives any lawyer room enough to build a case against him.

    I think the big facts are likely to be the amount and regularity of these kinds of accidents and whether a “registered racer” should have known how to control his car under the given circumstances.

    Also rally racing in Europe is an excellent point but it does not specifically or necessarily apply to this case, however, I would certainly include it as a defense lawyer.

    Incidentally this guy lives a few miles from me and most of the people who race in California were shocked that this happened. That might give you an indication of the rarity of these cases. Also the magnitude of this case far outweighs other desert racing related injuries/deaths.

  2. Huh? this car/spectator interaction is inherent to this style of racing. There have been countless injuries and deaths all over Europe during rally races. You drive really, really fast on roads and dirt tracks, the fans stand as close as possible, and occasionally, an out-of-control car hits people on the side of the road. This shouldn’t be “new” or unexpected to anyone familiar with this sort of event.

    Of course, the idiots out there probably weren’t well enough informed about European rally racing to know about the history of these crashes. But I think that any reasonable observer would say that the danger of standing that close to the course is obvious, so the spectators are responsible for standing where they did.

    If the driver was “grandstanding” somehow, this would be different. As far as I can tell, he was just racing like all the other drivers, and so, wasn’t fundamentally responsible for the spectators choosing to be in his way.

  3. Yeah, but the lawyers want the people to sue the driver for going too fast in a race…and then they want the driver to counter sue for people being too close to the race course that has no boundaries.

    Winner = Lawyers

  4. Recipe for disaster:
    Start with a drunken crowd, er mob
    Spread them unsupervised in the road and the outside of turns
    Add some airborne speeding vehicles
    Subtract medical staff
    Bake in hot sun

  5. I do not think that Mr. Sloppy has any liability in this.

    When you go to a baseball game you may get hit by a foul ball. Should the batter be held liable, the team, MLB?

    You are responsible, it is up to you to pay attention and move out of the way. It is a fact foul balls will be hit, and you knowing this assumed the risk when you bought the ticket, and attended the game.

    This race was in no way different. Racing has accidents (this made NASCAR), they knew it, and standing that close to the track has nothing to do with the driver.

  6. If trucks are known to go airborne here, Mr. Sloppy assumed a great deal of risk. And so did the sloppy drunken crowd.

    Schadenfreude thwarted in a most freakish manner. This could be an episode on the Twilite Zone.

  7. And this years Darwin Award goes to The driver plus 8…..My question is, what is the proper Jurisdiction? Federal Court or State?

    Beside stupid, what else are the folks complaining about. They went to probably see the driver fly and maybe walk away…they got more than the cost of admission…..

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