DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. expects former Red Wing Vladimir Konstantinov and former team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov to pay for legal costs and any judgment that may arise from a lawsuit they filed against an Ohio Ford dealer over injuries they suffered in a 1997 limousine crash.
Konstantinov and Mnatsakanov, who both suffered severe head injuries in the crash, sued Findlay Ford Lincoln Mercury, contending modifications in the limousine sold by the dealer made the vehicle unsafe. Under a dealership agreement, Ford is responsible for the cost of any lawsuit against Findlay Ford over the accident, according to court documents.
Konstantinov and Mnatsakanov settled their claims against Ford in 2001 for a total of $227,730. Now Ford has asked them to finance the lawsuit they both filed against Findlay Ford, citing an indemnification clause in the 2001 settlement.
Under Ford's interpretation of the agreements, "plaintiffs in this case are 'suing themselves,' " Konstantinov and Mnatsakanov said last week in a complaint asking a Michigan court to reject the automaker's claim.
"According to the defendant, plaintiffs will ultimately be required to pay any judgment or settlement obtained by plaintiffs against defendant Findlay Ford," they said.
"We certainly are opposing any efforts to do this, to put it mildly," their attorney, Richard Goodman, said earlier this week. "I don't think I've ever seen this before."
In an email, Ford spokeswoman Jennifer Moore said, "As part of the settlement agreement, the Konstantinovs and Mnatsakanovs agreed to indemnify Ford against future claims. Ford recently requested that they honor the terms of that settlement. In response they filed a lawsuit against Ford asking a court to relieve them of the obligation they agreed to nearly seven years ago."
Konstantinov and Mnatsakanov, who weren't wearing seat belts, were injured when the driver of the limousine fell asleep and the vehicle hit a tree. The accident happened after they left a team party celebrating the Red Wings' 1997 Stanley Cup championship.
The lawsuit trial is scheduled to begin March 8 in U.S. District Court in Detroit.
SOURCE: Detroit Free Press