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Lawyer for California off-road race crash victims says $5.8M settlement reached

SANTA ANA, Calif. - A $5.8 million agreement has been reached to settle lawsuits over a 2010 desert off-road race crash that killed eight people and injured 12 on federally owned land in California, a lawyer said Wednesday.

Attorney Katherine Harvey-Lee, who represents three injured spectators and the father of one person killed, said the deal was reached in mediation on Tuesday.

The crash occurred when a truck competing in the California 200 race sailed off a jump and slammed into the crowd in the Mojave Desert.

The agreement would settle lawsuits filed on behalf of victims and their families alleging the race was negligently managed and supervised.

Under the deal, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management would pay $4.825 million and race organizers and promoters Mojave Desert Racing Inc., and Mojave Desert Racing Productions Inc., would provide their $1 million insurance policy limit, Harvey-Lee said.

An internal review in 2010 by the BLM, which owns the land 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles, concluded the agency failed to adequately monitor the race or properly follow procedures in granting permits to race promoters.

The review found that the race sponsor expected 200 to 300 people at the event, but at least 1,500 people attended.

"When you get a lot of people out in the desert and you have vehicles operating in these races, it just makes sense that there should be some supervision to make sure people don't get hurt," Harvey-Lee said.

The agreement still must be approved by the Department of Justice and by a judge in Los Angeles, she said.

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles, declined to comment on the agreement. Dave Christy, a spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management, also declined comment.

After the incident, the BLM said it began applying higher standards to issue permits for off-road races.

A message left for lawyers representing Mojave Desert Racing was not immediately returned.

The August 2010 event was part of a seven-race series in the California desert. Dozens of competitors entered to race their trucks along a 50-mile course.

The Canadian Press


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