Formula 1 in Las Vegas leads to billion-dollar lawsuit
What a spectacle: Formula One made its debut in the gambling metropolis of Las Vegas last weekend. Expectations were high, even though the winner was almost a foregone conclusion given the current balance of power. Unfortunately, not everything went as hoped. As a result, those responsible are now facing a class action lawsuit for more than $1 billion!
City races are one of the most demanding parts of any motorsport series, both for the drivers and the organisers. It is necessary to work with the surface and conditions of real roads that are used on a daily basis and to prepare them in the best possible way. Typical signs of wear and tear have to be repaired, fences have to be erected to protect the surrounding area and the entire race infrastructure has to be organised in a comparatively small space. It is not unusual for things to go wrong, especially at a debut event.
But nobody expected what happened at the first Formula One event in Las Vegas (since 1982) - and the aftermath: The opening practice session was cancelled after some back and forth due to track damage. The fans, who had to wait a long time for the second round and were eventually sent home without any racing action, were hardly happy. Not a few of them joined a class action lawsuit as a result. A whopping 1.05 billion US dollars is at stake!
What happened during Formula 1 training in Las Vegas in 2023?
Just eight minutes into the opening Formula One practice session in Las Vegas on Thursday evening, a channel cover came loose on the new street circuit. Carlos Sainz's Ferrari was badly damaged as a result. The session was subsequently cancelled.
The organisers had all areas of the track where there was a risk of a similar incident repaired. This took some time and the second session, originally scheduled for midnight, had to be postponed. The new time of 2.30am could not be met. In fact, the organisers declared the 1.30am race unfeasible and sent the fans home.
Given that tickets for the event, which we reported on in the spring of 2023 in connection with F1's contract with Las Vegas until 2032, were anything but cheap, trouble was inevitable.
35,000 fans join class action lawsuit
As reported by ESPN and others, the Dimopoulos Law Firm, together with JK Legal & Consulting, has filed a class action lawsuit against Formula One and the promoter of the Las Vegas Grand Prix in federal court in Nevada. The defendants are Liberty Media, the promoter of the race, and TAB, the company responsible for the work on the Las Vegas circuit.
The companies are accused of breach of contract, negligence and deceptive trade practices. The Dimopoulos law firm believes that the track was not in a condition suitable for racing. The lawsuit states that the race organisers failed to remedy certain defects. This, of course, mainly refers to the incorrect risk assessment or installation of the water chute that led to the training incident. Dimopoulos is certain that the track was not ready for the race.
The complaints have resulted in a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of 35,000 fans. The main plaintiffs are spectators who bought tickets specifically for the opening day and did not attend other race days. The lawyers are seeking at least $30,000 in damages per person. In total, this amounts to at least 1.05 billion US dollars in penalties. This is the equivalent of around 960 million euros.
Formula 1 has been very accommodating to the fans affected. As compensation for their tickets to the event, which cost several hundred dollars, they offered vouchers worth 200 dollars. However, the law firm criticised the fact that a refund of the ticket price was not on the table. As a result, Dimopoulos would be entitled to substantial financial compensation. In addition to the financial loss, Dimopoulos has also suffered some emotional distress, according to the law firm. This was caused by the defendant's "deliberate, reckless and wilful conduct": This is what the statement of claim suggests, mutatis mutandis.
The organiser argues with safety precautions
The organiser does not feel guilty. He said it was important to clear the spectator areas at night to ensure the health and safety of staff and the public.
A spokesman for the Grand Prix initially refused to comment on the legal dispute. According to the organiser, the focus is on providing an entertaining experience for the fans, but also on ensuring a safe environment. The latter is always the first priority. Obviously there were serious concerns about the safety of the thousands of fans following the incidents in the first practice session.
Image source: https://pixabay.com/de/photos/max-verstappen-rot-stier-f1-4341611/