Apologies if this is posted elsewhere on the site.
Trial set for Ironman death case
Montana native died 3 days after 2006 race
By JOSH WEINFUSS News Herald Writer 747-5069 | firstname.lastname@example.org
PANAMA CITY — Almost two-anda-half years after Barney Rice died after competing in Ironman Florida in 2006, a lawsuit alleging negligence against race organizers will go to trial.
The case will be heard starting July 6 in front of U.S. District Judge Richard Smoak. Rice, a native of Kalispell, Mont., died Nov. 7, 2006, after three days in Bay Medical Center.
Rice was competing in a three-leg event comprised of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run. The annual race takes place every fall in Panama City Beach.
Rice was pulled from the Gulf of Mexico during the second leg of the swim during Ironman Florida on Nov. 4, 2006. His autopsy cited the cause of death as an accidental drowning, but developments related to the suit have put in question whether Rice actually drowned.
The lawsuit is seeking an unspecified amount of money more than $75,000.
The lawsuit is spearheaded by Brian Moore, a close friend of the Rice family and the executor of Rice’s estate. It originally was filed in June in state court but was transferred to federal court on Nov. 14, 2008, because the three defendants — World Triathlon Corporation, North America Sports and USA Triathlon — are located in different states.
Moore’s lawsuit brings four counts of negligence, one each against the World Triathlon Corporation, North America Sports, USA Triathlon and “any other entity whose acts or omissions caused or contributed to cause the drowning death of” Rice.
The lawsuit claims the triathlon was negligent in nine instances:
Failing to properly supervise, guard, monitor or secure the swim area and swimmers, including but not limited to the decedent;
Failing to properly organize the swim competition in a reasonably safe manner;
Failing to have proper procedures or rules governing response to emergency situations, including drownings;
Failing to provide enough supervision at the swim competition event;
Allowing Rice to enter the swim without the presence of enough lifeguards or other persons trained in first aid or cardiopulmonary resuscitation for the number of participants in the triathlon;
Failing to sufficiently research the oceanic and weather conditions to ensure the conditions were safe for swimmers such as Rice, and makes it reasonably safe from the foreseeable harm suffered by Rice;
Failing to properly provide adequate safety equipment, safety floatation equipment and life-saving equipment to aid in rescue efforts’
Failing to have a risk management program in place;
Failing to call off the competition when the conditions were such as to make it unsafe to continue.
In a motion to dismiss the case or ask for a more definite statement, the defendants’ attorney, Larry Matthews, wrote event organizers cannot be charged with keeping natural bodies of water safe “because a natural body of water contains inherent natural hazards.”
Matthews also claimed only the first count, against World Triathlon Corporation, which acquired seven Ironman races, including Ironman Florida, from North America Sports in January, should be allowed because the counts against North America Sports and USA Triathlon failed to allege causation.
“Plaintiff’s allegations do not provide ultimate facts describing how the alleged negligent acts attributed to NA Sports and USAT caused decedent’s death, but instead provide that decedent’s death must be attributable to some negligent act by Defendants,” Matthews wrote in the motion. “Just because a tragic event has occurred does not necessarily mean that some negligent act caused it to occur, nor are defendants required to guess what it is they are alleged to have failed to do.”
Wow!!! Next thing they are going to require training wheels, so we don't fall off our bike during the ride, or better yet mandatory stopping and drinkin 1 cup of water/gatorade at each stop to ensure you don't dehydrate or become a heat casualty. This sport, like so many others are not without some underlying dangers. The fact that this case is even going to court is unbelievable. We know the dangers, and we accept them, so that we may race and push our bodies to limits we choose.
Get ready for another hike in the cost of racing Ironman....
Link to court documents if you're interested in the actual complaints.
IMFL 2006. About 8 of us DC Tri clubbers were there. Warm gulf salt water, excellent buoyancy, surf not too bad, 2 laps with a beach run in between. Kind of freaky that someone died during your race, but not bad at all for a tri swim.