NAPA and Gateway sued over rider's ATV fall, brain damage

Kelly Holleran Jul. 8, 2009, 11:35am

A Kansas man and his wife have filed suit against a Chicago racetrack, a parts company and an ATV driver, alleging the man suffered severe brain damage after he was thrown from the back of an ATV.

Michael and Denise Ward claim Michael Ward was participating in a motor racing event, sponsored by defendant NAPA, at the Gateway International Raceway in Madison on June 28. The event is known as PINKS All Out.

During the event, Michael Ward was riding on the back of an ATV defendant Jacqueline R. Breeden was driving when she suddenly made a sharp turn, causing Michael Ward to be thrown from the back of the vehicle, according to the complaint filed June 26 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

As a result, Michael Ward sustained severe head trauma and broken bones including a broken right femur and broken right knee, the complaint says. In addition, Michael Ward now lacks a short-term memory and reasoning skills and is completely incapacitated, the suit states.

Denise Ward claims she and her husband have incurred medical bills of more than $1 million and that her husband is no longer able to work at his job, where he was earning more than $160,000 per year.

Because of her husband's injuries, Denise Ward has been forced to suffer a loss of Michael Ward's consortium, companionship, society and support.

Gateway and NAPA negligently allowed Ward to ride on the back of an ATV on its premises, allowed ATVs to be driven in an unsafe manner and failed to provide a safe environment, according to the complaint.

Breeden negligently made a sharp turn, invited Michael Ward onto the rear of her ATV, drove the ATV too fast and failed to keep a proper lookout, the suit states.

In the six-count suit, the Wards are seeking a judgment of more than $300,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

Robert J. Radice and John M. Horas of Horas, Radice and Kellett in St. Louis will be representing the couple.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-341.

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