Judge rules against fans in Lowe's bridge collapse

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Four NASCAR fans injured in the post-race
collapse of a pedestrian bridge in 2000 cannot seek damages from
Lowe's Motor Speedway, the state's Court of Appeals ruled

The three-judge panel unanimously determined that the lawsuits,
filed in 2004, came too long after the bridge was constructed in
September 1995. State law protects manufacturers from negligence
lawsuits after six years under the premise that a product, such as
a walking bridge, will eventually deteriorate and fail over time.

More than 100 people were injured, some seriously, on May 20,
2000, when an 80-foot section of the walkway fell 25 feet onto a
highway in Concord. Fans were crossing to a nearby parking lot
after a NASCAR all-star race.

Investigators have said the bridge builder, Tindall Corp., used
an improper additive to help the concrete filler at the bridge's
center dry faster. The additive contained calcium chloride, which
corroded the structure's steel cables and led to the collapse.

"While the incident happened at our speedway, we were in no way
responsible," raceway attorney David Allen said. "The only
negligence in this case was Tindall's."

In the only negligence verdict resulting from the collapse,
Tindall had to pay a portion of a $4 million jury award to a
Virginia couple in 2003. Jurors in that case also found that the
racetrack breached a contract with the state Department of
Transportation by not completing appropriate inspections, so the
two sides shared the cost of the award.

Most of the rest of the nearly 50 lawsuits filed against the
speedway have been settled out of court and Allen said he expects
the few remaining lawsuits to conclude by the end of the year.

The lead lawyer representing the fans who took their cases to
the appellate court said they will consider appealing to the state
Supreme Court to win the right to jury trials.

"We are obviously disappointed with the decision," lawyer
Kevin Cartledge said. "It is essentially going to leave my clients
without any recovery for their injuries."