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Widow of fan killed by lightning sues Pocono Raceway, NASCAR

Aug 6, 2014, 1:53 PM EDT

Pocono 400 Getty Images

Shortly after the end of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 5, 2012, a lightning strike at the track killed one fan and sent nine more fans to a local hospital.

Nearly two years later, the widow of the late Brian Zimmerman has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the track and NASCAR.

According to the Pocono (Penn.) Record, Marion Zimmerman claims that the track knew of dangerous weather but continued the race and did not adequately warn fans of the situation.

The suit was filed last Friday, just before the two-year statute of limitations on the case expired.

“With three young children, and a (wedding) anniversary in August, this is something that has had a significant impact on them,” Mrs. Zimmerman’s attorney, Thomas P. Comerford, said to the Record.

The Record has listed several excerpts of the suit, including the allegation that Pocono and NASCAR “waited for an unreasonable amount of time, after they knew or should have known of the dangerous approaching weather, to stop the race thereby unnecessarily placing all individuals in attendance to the risk of being electrocuted.”

All Pocono tickets feature a contract that states the purchaser releases the track from any liability. However, the Record reports that the suit alleges the contract as being void since the fine print is “inconspicuous” and that Pocono didn’t advise spectators to read the fine print before attending the event.

Mr. Comerford also stated that such a waiver was only applicable in situations “when there’s an inherent risk associated with the race itself, for example a car crash with debris in the stands.”

In addition to the Zimmerman suit, a second lawsuit was filed against Pocono and NASCAR last month by Brian Zimmerman’s friend, Jason Pencek, and his wife. Pencek was among those injured in the lightning strike.

Track officials would not comment on the lawsuits.

Due to the storm on Aug. 5, 2012, NASCAR called the Pennsylvania 400 after 98 of a scheduled 160 laps. Jeff Gordon was declared the winner.

A article from Aug. 7, 2012 relayed word from a track spokesman who said there were at least two lightning strikes on Pocono Raceway property – one in a parking lot behind the grandstand and another near a gate area. The spokesman also said that the track broadcasted warnings for fans to find immediate shelter.

  1. griffm60 - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    Too bad it’s not that simple, he could have made a choice to leave at anytime, race or no race, no one can predict an act of nature, if so many hurricane, tornado and earthquake victims would be able to file lawsuits , will the movie theatre or restaurants be next, I am very sorry for this lost of life, but can Pocono really be the blame

    • drtracer - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:30 PM

      Well I guess all you folks are Nascar fans that have the speed ways best interests . Me personally hope this woman and her kids get paid. That man took his family to the races and he lost his life . Rip. But I don’t care what any of you say about who is at fault the speedway has insurance just like any business and home owners incase any one gets injured or gets there life taken. There are kids that prob. Need dad to pay the bills and now dad cannot . And don’t get it twisted the speedway that weekend made about 100 million bucks profit.

  2. kitnamania13 - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    She’ll get a settlement. That’s how things work in this country. At least we’ll know who to blame when Nascar starts calling races at half-distance and sending people home every time there’s a late-afternoon cloud in the sky.

    • indycarseries500 - Aug 6, 2014 at 4:43 PM

      Settlement=Bye, bye IndyCar Pocono 500

    • rpearlston - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:17 PM

      She’ll get a settlement because she/her husband couldn’t use their own heads? I highlky doubt it. This is simply an excuse to cover the fact that they couldn’t be bothered to take responsibility for themselves. Too bad, but too true. Settlement? In the proverbial pig’s eye.

      • indycarseries500 - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:33 AM

        Sporting venues almost always settle to avoid going to court.

  3. wrlegrand - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    I would have understood this much more had she sued immediately following her husband’s death, because it could have been attributed to grief. However, this is nothing more than a situation where a lawyer got to her and convinced her that he could get money out of the Speedway and NASCAR. It is despicable if you ask me. Sports leagues and venues do not have the obligation to tell people when to leave. Their job is to put on an event to the best of their ability, which includes running this race until it starts raining. This man could have easily stayed under the grandstands until the lightning storm had passed. I doubt NASCAR or Pocono forced him to leave the grounds. They are not at fault, but sadly she and the sleazy attorney will probably get money, because that is cheaper than a year of litigation. Sickening. The judge should throw this out in my opinion….

  4. techmeister1 - Aug 6, 2014 at 4:54 PM

    The paid liars have corrupted the U.S. judicial system so badly that many people believe they are entitled to Jackpot Justice.

    If a person is walking down the street and gets hit by lightning then a siren chaser will take the case to court and blame everyone except the person walking in a lightening storm. According to the paid liars it would be the home owner or the local municipality’s or the weatherman’s or other people’s fault the person was struck by lightening.

    Most countries other than the U.S. will not even allow these Jackpot Justice cases to be heard. Their judicial systems just rejects these scams. In the U.S. it makes paid liars and ass clowns instant millionaires. Toby Keith sang about it in a song – “spill a cup of coffee (on your crotch because your an irresponsible idiot to place a cup of coffee between your legs and then drive down the road…) and become a millionaire”

    That’s what one unscrupulous Bimbo did and collected from McDonalds claiming the coffee was too hot. Only in America could a jury reach that verdict. The jury should have been convicted of being criminally insane and shipped off to the funny farm with the paid liar and Bimbo, IMO.

    • Sandy - Aug 7, 2014 at 12:02 PM

      You should learn the facts of the McDonald’s case before you use it as support for anything… to start with, the woman was not the driver of the car, nor was the car moving at the time the coffee spilled.

  5. rpearlston - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:26 PM

    Fine print is only “inconspicuous” if you refuse to try to read it. There is no reason on the face of this or any other planet to not make a point of reading it, at least once a season. There goes yet another of her so-called reasons to launch this ridiculous suit.
    Lady, get off your butt and get a job.

    • techmeister1 - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:37 PM

      FWIW, those who don’t know should be aware that the paid liars in the U.S. have corrupted the judicial system so badly that even the terms and conditions specified in writing on tickets or posted for public view etc., have been deemed by some courts to be NON-enforceable because this way the paid liars can sue and enjoy Jackpot Justice. So if you think the “fine print” or even large signs stating safety risks, etc. are a means to protect yourself from unscrupulous bottom feeders stealing you blind, think again. Only in America could Jackpot Justice criminal activity be construed as “true justice”.

  6. chad4208 - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:36 PM

    i hope this bitch gets struck by lightening

  7. mlauer5155 - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:40 PM

    There was a recent lawsuit against be I’Williams Grove Speedway. The jury ruled in favor of the speedway. It is sad for the family but if Pocono is found at fault it will be the beginning of the end of motorsports in the US.

    • indycarseries500 - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:39 AM

      This is not tied in with motorsport, why would it change what goes on on-track?

  8. HarryNutz-AG- - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    Feel bad for the family, but I don’t see how you can blame the racetrack. Shouldn’t most “adults” already know the dangers of being out in a thunderstorm and the risk of lightening associated with it? Granted the odds aren’t great that any one person will be stuck by lightening, but I know I for one head indoors during a storm. So reason has it that this grown man could see a storm coming from the distance and seek shelter and not continue sitting in his seat to watch a race just because Nascar hadn’t called the race yet. It’s not Nascar or the tracks fault for adults who don’t have any common sense.

    • techmeister1 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:22 PM

      You need to understand that the paid liars have convinced judges and juries that there is NO personal responsibility for people in the U.S. It’s ALWAYS someone else’s responsibility, i.e. if you pour hot coffee on your crotch while driving – it’s McDonald’s responsibility because they didn’t make you read a book on coffee drinking and handling etiquette while riding in an automobile.

      The U.S. judicial system is so broken that’s its insane. All so the unscrupulous can enjoy Jackpot Justice. The criminals are raking in the money hand over fist and ever consumer pays for this crime via increased ticket prices, food prices, insurance prices, etc. We are the one’s paying not just the entity that gets falsely forced to pay for this crime.

  9. kansasmom6 - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:19 PM

    Does anyone else find it ironic that there name is Zimmerman?
    Apparently people need to be told there is lighting around ( because apparently they didn’t hear those loud thunder booms) and yes you can hear them over the cars as much as they shake rattle and roll. And apparently people can’t see lightning. I think people are idiots. And well apparently the Zimmerman name stokes again and is living up to another great expectations!!

  10. bru308 - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    I happened to be at the same race when this accident occurred. When the lightning struck the parking lot that killed this man, my wife and I were sitting in our car in line leaving the track… and we didn’t miss a lap of green flag action either. So, how did we have enough fair warning, but this guy didn’t?

    Trust me, I feel bad for his family, but let’s be honest here. How was there already a solid line of traffic leaving the track if there wasn’t enough fair warning?

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