Kim v. County of MontereyAnnotate this Case
Monterey County's Laguna Seca Raceway obtained a license from the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) to hold FIM-sanctioned motorcycle racing events. No one at the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP), which manages operations, possessed any experience or training on-track safety. Without consulting experts, SCAMP directed the placement of sandbags—provided by the County—around the Raceway for erosion control, in violation of FIM Standards. Kim attended a Raceway event. It was foreseeable that participants would lose control of their motorcycles and enter the safety zone, but they were not warned about unmarked sandbags placed around the racecourse. Kim “ran wide” into the safety zone, collided with sandbags, was ejected from his motorcycle, and suffered serious injuries.
The court of appeal reversed summary judgment in favor of the County and SCRAMP on claims of dangerous conditions of public property and gross negligence. Kim adequately alleged that the presence of sandbags on or near a track is not an inherent risk of amateur motorcycle track racing. A reasonable factfinder could determine that the use of sandbags was a severe departure from the “first-class manner” that SCRAMP was contractually obligated to operate the Raceway; that because local conditions made erosion inevitable and in light of $5.25 million revenue contractually-designated for “capital improvements,” it was grossly negligent for SCRAMP to divert this money to operations; and that defendants were grossly negligent for relying entirely on the assessments of a SCRAMP executive with virtually no track safety training.