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Defendants in Dead Driver Suit Present Liability Waivers

December 20, 1995

ADRIAN, Mich. (AP) _ Three defendants have asked to be dropped from a lawsuit filed by the widow of NASCAR driver Clifford Allison because of signed liability waivers.

Allison, 27, died after fractured his skull in a 1992 practice run at Michigan International Speedway when he hit a wall and skidded to the infield.

His widow, Elisa Allison, filed the suit earlier this year against the speedway, NASCAR, Owens Racing Inc. and two racing equipment suppliers.

The suit was filed after Allison’s family questioned why the crash resulted in a fatal injury, according to Lansing attorney Brian Surgener who is representing the family. He said the crash may have turned deadly because of faulty equipment and inspections.

Lenawee Circuit Judge Timothy Pickard gave Surgener a month to show why the waivers signed by the driver just prior to entering the 1992 race should not block the lawsuit over the driver’s death.

Surgener said Monday he just recently learned of the liability waivers Allison signed.

``My argument is, we didn’t have enough to determine if these were valid or not,″ Surgener said in court.

Steven Galbraith, who is representing NASCAR, MIS and Owens Racing, said it’s routine for drivers and other race personnel to sign liability waivers as a condition of entering races. He said there is no evidence of fraud or threats used to get Allison to sign waivers for the Detroit Gasket 200 event.

But according to Surgener, there was something wrong with the car and safety equipment that Allison could not have contemplated when he signed the release documents.

Pickard granted a delay in ruling on the motion and set another hearing for Jan. 22.

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