Widow of fan killed by lightning sues Pocono Raceway, NASCAR

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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 NASCAR.com 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.