Hot coals on racetrack parking lot leads to $100k suit

By Steve Gonzalez | Jun 27, 2007

Gateway International Raceway

The mother of an 11-year-old boy who stepped on hot charcoal in the parking lot at Gateway International Raceway in Madison is suing the racetrack for failing to instruct people on how to dispose of charcoal.

Julia Pace claims that she and her son Jonathan were attempting to attend a NHRA racing event at Gateway on June 25, 2005, when Jonathon was severely burned and injured when his feet came into contact with a pile of hot charcoals that were on the surface of the parking lot.

"The parking lot contained no warning signs and/or placards, instructing patrons to refrain from dumping charcoals or any other material in the parking lot," the complaint states.

Pace claims that it took "several minutes" for medical personnel to arrive after her son sustained his injuries.

According to the suit filed June 25 in Madison County Circuit Court, when medical personnel did arrive, the crew allegedly failed to promptly dispatch adequate medical attention.

Pace claims the racetrack failed to have a designated area for people to safely dispose of their charcoal.

She also claims Gateway was negligent for failing to exercise the appropriate standard of care by failing to instruct patrons in a proper and safe method for the disposal of charcoal, failing to erect proper signage prohibiting dumping, failed to warn of hot charcoals in the parking lot and failed to prohibit barbequing in the parking lot.

Pace further alleges Gateway failed to utilize adequate security to prevent patrons from dumping charcoal, failed to inspect the parking lot to prevent unsafe conditions, failed to separate patrons that barbeque from those who don't, failed to provide adequate medical personnel to assist after the injury took place.

According to Pace, Jonathan required:

  • Admission to the burn unit at St. Louis Children's Hospital for 15-17 days;

  • Numerous surgical procedures related to the treatment of his burns;

  • "Pig skin" graft to repair damage caused by the burns;

  • Lengthy physical therapy and rehabilitation related to the burns; and

  • Application of a burn sock that was work for 14-16 months after his burns.

    Pace also claims her son sustained pain and suffering of mind and body, disfigurement, psychiatric trauma as a result of his disfigurement, loss of a normal life, disability and an increased risk of future harm.

    Represented by Stephen Evans of St. Louis, Pace is seeking damages in excess of $100,000, plus costs of the suit.

    She also is seeking damages in excess of $50,000, from "John Doe" alleging he negligently placed hot charcoals on the surface of the parking lot creating a dangerous condition.

    The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron.

    07 L 565

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