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Maness v. Santa Fe Park Enterprises Inc.

August 27, 1998

LEANNE MANESS, INDIV. AND AS SPECIAL ADM'R OF THE ESTATE OF EDWARD L. MANESS, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
SANTA FE PARK ENTERPRISES, INC., D/B/A SANTA FE SPEEDWAY, AND NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR STOCK CAR AUTO RACING, INC., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McNAMARA delivered the opinion of the court

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY

No. 95 L 10687

HONORABLE PADDY H. McNAMARA, JUDGE PRESIDING.

Plaintiff's decedent, Edward L. Maness (Maness), suffered an ultimately fatal heart attack while participating in a stock car race at Santa Fe Speedway (Santa Fe) on July 10, 1993. Plaintiff, Leanne Maness (plaintiff), filed suit individually and as special administrator of the estate of her husband, seeking damages as a result of Edward's death. On October 23, 1996, the trial court granted the motion of defendants, Santa Fe Enterprises, Inc., d/b/a Santa Fe Speedway, and National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR) (defendants), to dismiss plaintiff's second amended complaint with prejudice. Plaintiff appeals that order. We affirm. The relevant facts are as follows.

On July 10, 1993, Maness participated in an auto race at defendants' race track. At the time Maness was 51 years old and had been racing stock cars for many years. During the race Maness suffered an ultimately fatal heart attack. Maness died on July 11, 1993. Plaintiff was named special administrator of her husband's estate.

Prior to participating in the July 10, 1993, race, Maness signed three releases/waivers of liability expressly agreeing to release, waive, and discharge defendants from all liability for his injury or death whether caused by the negligence or gross negligence of defendants or otherwise.

In April 1993, Maness applied for NASCAR membership and a NASCAR license in order to participate in NASCAR sponsored racing events. In exchange for becoming a member and receiving a NASCAR license Maness paid a $65 fee and signed a "Release and Waiver of Liability and Indemnity Agreement," which provided in pertinent part that Maness:

"1. HEREBY RELEASES, WAIVES, DISCHARGES AND COVENANTS NOT TO SUE the promoter, participants, racing association, sanctioning organization or any subdivision thereof, track operator, track owner,

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from all liability to the undersigned, his/her personal representatives, assigns, heirs and next of kin for any and all loss or damage, and any claim or demands therefore on account of the 'releasees' or otherwise while the undersigned is in or upon the restricted area, and/or competing, officiating in, observing, working for, or for any purpose participating in the EVENT(S);

2.HEREBY AGREES TO INDEMNIFY AND SAVE AND HOLD HARMLESS the 'releasees' and each of them for any loss, liability, damage, or cost they may incur due to the presence of the undersigned in or upon the restricted area or in any way competing, officiating, observing, or working for, or for any purpose participating in the EVENT(S) and whether caused by the negligence or gross negligence of the 'releasees' or otherwise.

3. HEREBY ASSUMES FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY RISK OF BODILY INJURY, DEATH OR PROPERTY DAMAGE due to the negligence or gross negligence of 'releasees' or otherwise while in or upon the restricted area and/or while competing, officiating, observing, or working for or for any purpose participating in the EVENT(S)." Prior to the July 10, 1993, race, Maness also signed a competitor permit, which contained a release and waiver of liability agreement identical to that contained in the NASCAR membership application. Maness signed this release in consideration for being allowed to compete in the race.

Moreover, on July 10, 1993, Maness paid a fee and obtained a pit permit, which allowed him to enter the pit area at the race track and to compete in the races being held that evening. The pit permit contained the following release agreement, which Maness signed:

"I hereby release speedway owner, operator, promoter, sanctioning body and any other person or persons connected with the racemeet for which this Pit Permit has been issued from all liability for personal injury or property damage whether arising from claims of negligence, gross negligence or any other cause, while preparing, practicing, qualifying or participating in or attending said racemeet."

On July 6, 1995 plaintiff, individually and as special administrator of her husband's estate, filed a two-count complaint against defendants. Count I, sounding in negligence/wrongful death, alleged that defendants negligently delayed providing medical assistance to Maness, causing his heart attack to become "irreversible" and resulting in his death. Count II was brought by plaintiff individually and alleged infliction of mental distress. The trial court granted defendants' motion to dismiss and granted plaintiff leave to file her first amended complaint.

Plaintiff's first amended complaint set forth expanded versions of the two counts contained in the original complaint. Count I sounded in negligence, alleging that Maness was participating in a race when his car struck the track's outside wall and rolled to a stop in the track's infield; that Maness gave no hand signal to indicate that he was not in need of medical aid; that defendants negligently failed to immediately stop the race and dispatch medical personnel; that defendants did not dispatch medical personnel until the next race event was completed; that as a proximate result of this negligence Maness's heart attack "went unattended for a protracted amount of time so that it became irreversible"; and that the "danger of not being promptly sent medical assistance was not foreseeable because Maness "had a reasonable expectation that he would receive prompt medical attention." Count II attempted to state a cause of action for "extreme and outrageous misconduct" alleging:

"19. That the plaintiff, Leanne Maness, was the wife of Edward L. Maness; she was present in the grandstands of the defendants' track; she saw that her husband needed help; she saw no movement in his car; she saw no signal from him indicating that he was all right; she saw his pit crew pleading for someone to go help; she heard others asking officials to send help; she ran to the starter's gate to go help her husband; defendants' employees stopped her; defendants' employees heard her yells, screams and ...


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