Ten Years Later, Red Wings Limousine Crash Still in Litigation

Posted on June 13, 2007 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

DETROIT — Ten years ago today, a Birmingham, Mich. limousine accident left Red Wings defensemen Vladimir Konstantinov and team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov with severe head trauma, and seriously injured teammate Slava Fetisov, just days after the team won the Stanley Cup.

Today, litigation continues in a federal product-liability lawsuit seeking damages from Findlay (Ohio) Ford Lincoln Mercury, the dealership that sold the limousine to National Coach, the vehicle’s modifier. The suit claims the vehicle was negligently designed, lacking three-point seatbelts, among other deficiencies.

As a result of the crash, Mnatskanov has brain damage and is paralyzed from the waist down and Konstantinov was in a coma for more than a month and now requires full-time nursing care and struggles to get around with the aid of a walker. None of the men, including Fetisov, have received a dime from any judgment and lost a huge insurance claim they filed.

Early on, the insurance carrier for Gambino Limousine Service, which provided the car, settled with the three men, their wives, and children for $2 million, and will provide lifetime medical costs under Michigan's no-fault insurance law.

The three were owed $250 million in further insurance claims, however, the bulk of it for Konstantinov, and won that in a Michigan judgment, said the attorney who represented them, Richard M. Goodman. But the insurance companies brought suit in a New Jersey state court and had that judgment overturned on the grounds their insurance policies did not cover the infamous limousine accident.

Findlay sought to have the suit dismissed, saying any design problems were the fault of the modifier, National Coach, which has gone out of business. In January, however, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled the case could go forward.

Ford, which never was sued, made a private settlement with the three injured men, but still could share liability with the dealership in the federal suit because National Coach was certified by the automaker's Qualified Vehicle Modifier(QVM) program. The case is scheduled for trial next February.

Source: Detroit News Online

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