South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Race Track Spectator Warned of Dangers
Description Mississippi high court held that a spectator at a race track had to know of the obvious dangers of standing next to the track and, further, had signed a liability waiver that clearly stated the danger of being close to the racing cars.
Topic Torts
Key Words Negligence; Premises Liability; Liability Waiver; Race Track
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Massey paid to attend a race at a dirt track leased by Tingle, who operated Columbus Speedway. Massey, who had attended numerous races, paid an additional fee to be admitted to the pit area. She also signed a liability waiver prior to entry. It acknowledged the dangers of the area. While she was standing near the pit area behind a guardrail, using a stopwatch to clock a friend's time, an out of control car hit the guardrail, which struck Massey and inflicted serious injury. She sued Tingle for negligence for not having a stronger guardrail, for not providing her with a safer place near the pits, and failing to warn her of the danger of being where she was when injured. She claimed she had no idea what the liability waiver said. The trial court dismissed the suit. Massey appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. The track operator owes a duty to spectators to keep the premises reasonably safe and, when spectators wish to be located in unsafe areas, to warn them of non-obvious dangers. Massey signed a liability waiver that contained an adequate warning, in boldface type, that stated the dangers clearly. No one prevented her from signing the waiver without reading it. There was no failure to warn her of the danger. Further, she made the decision to stand next to the raceway, behind a guardrail, with cars going by at high speeds. She had to know of the open and obvious dangers involved in being so close to the track.

Citation Massey v. Tingle, 867 So.2d 235 (Sup. Ct., Miss., 2004)

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