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7th Circuit issues U.S. Grand Prix ruling

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Race fans have a reason to watch the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals today.

As the Indianapolis 500 weekend kicks off, the Circuit Court has issued a decision fitting the mood - one involving the notorious U.S. Grand Prix race in 2005. The unanimous decision today comes in Larry Bowers, Alan G. Symons, Carey Johnson, et al. v. Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, Formula One Administration Limited, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp., et al.

The ruling affirms a 2006 ruling from U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Baker in Indianapolis - she threw out the 10 class action suits that were consolidated into one action where fans sought punitive damages as well as compensatory damages for ticket costs, travel expenses and food.

Unhappy fans sued following the tire performance mishap two years ago, where all 14 cars running on Michelin tires withdrew from the race.

Judge Barker ruled that the fans had no basis for the lawsuit. "It's to be assumed that the Michelin teams made the decision they believed to be in their best competitive and professional interests, and in doing so, they owed no legal duty to let the preferences of the spectators trump their own good judgment," Judge Barker wrote.

In its 14-page ruling today, the three Circuit judges affirmed the dismissal of breach of contract and tortuous interference, promissory estoppel, and negligence claims.

"But while a six-car race under the Regulations may be less rich, interesting, or challenging than a 12-car race, it is not prohibited or nonsensical under the rules (like a soccer match between three teams or a basketball team getting a first down)," Circuit Judge Richard D. Cudahy wrote. "These rules cannot be interpreted to impose a 'minimum car' requirement. There is no reason to claim, as the plaintiffs in all seriousness do, that no race occurred."

He added that sports fans had to understand in this case that any number of events - such as dangerous track conditions, sudden illnesses, or an accident - could always prevent a driver from participating and that it would be unreasonable to expect otherwise.

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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