Manor F1 may be liable for de Villota family legal claims


As TJ13 reported recently, the Health and Safety Report into Maria de Villota’s crash in 2012 was in part due the fact her Marussia car was ‘pushed’ into the parked lorry which inflicted her injuries that proved ultimately fatal.

Maria’s family have now responded and claim the HSE document clearly reveals there were “a number of irregularities on the day of the accident”.

“The report cites factors such as the questionable position of the lorry and its tail-lift ramp, the lack of logistical and technical information, as well as the lack of some basic safety precautions and driver briefing.”

“The report confirms that Marussia’s own risk assessment process considered neither the risks posed by the layout of the test facility (including position of the lorry and the tail-lift) nor the risks to Maria from the design of the car.

“The family’s lawyers are studying the report in order to identify the next steps that the family may wish to take, including court proceedings.”

This will be of concern to the current Marussia Manor F1 team who emerged from the ashes of the original organisation responsible for the test back in 2012.

Bernie Ecclestone has made it clear he would be happy were Manor to ‘go to the wall’ and the only reason the team qualifies for the 2014 Marussia prize money is because the company holding the F1 racing license was not dissolved in bankruptcy proceedings.

The debts and creditors from before 2015 were ‘satisfied’ by the Administrator’s proposals, which allowed the legal entity that was Marussia Racing to continue trading.

Thus, any liability from the 2012 crash could be laid at the door of the current Manor F1 team – and they would be responsible for any compensation then awarded.

When Stephen Fiztpatrick and Justin King agreed to finance the reborn Manor F1 team, the stated position of the HSE was that no prosecution was to be actioned by them relating to the de Vilotta crash. The matter had been closed.

However, the report had been previously marked confidential by the HSE until the BBC insisted it be released under the UK’s “Freedom of Information Act”.

Maria’s family concluded by stating, “We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that Maria and her legacy continue.”

14 responses to “Manor F1 may be liable for de Villota family legal claims

    • Mr Rampante is correct, we don’t actually know that it was injuries sustained from Maria’s accident that ultimately proved fatal. Someone might be able to logically, and medically, deduce that, but we can’t…

      What we CAN infer from this matter, from the outside, is the loss of her career in motor racing and the loss of anticipated earnings, as well as other damages like medical expenses, ongoing care, psychological impacts and the like, which of course are as a result of the negligence that caused the accident. Whilst some may feel that those earnings and career loss are minimal, you’d be surprised how creative lawyers can get and how long such calculations are drawn out – and in cases like this, rightly so. I estimate it would be around the £10m – £15m mark overall; though I am very much making a guesstimation.

      Now that would be a civil proceeding, so the death in and of itself is not that relevant to the facts of the accident and the resulting financial damages, which would be the primary driver to the compensation claim. All of these are easily established and calculated, and it sounds culpability is easily proven given they can rely on the report.

      The death, however, would be – or should have been – critical in criminal proceedings… Criminal proceedings are clearly not going to happen here, which boggles the mind. This case, for me, is much more clear cut than the Bianchi case. I’d happily take this case on as a lawyer, for example. I can’t say the same for the Bianchi case… Sure the FiA led investigation was farcical in the Bianchi case – designed purely to exonerate the key stake holders like FOM, FiA and Suzuka – but the facts of the accident are harder to establish and assign culpability. Again, my opinion on the matter.

      Therefore, whether Maria’s death can be linked to the injuries borne of the accident, or not, is legally irrelevant. I hope the family do something, because there clearly is, in my opinion, significant levels of negligence in just placing her in the car and operating without proper care.

      As someone who’s raced open-wheelers, I can’t look at the above picture for long. It’s an exposed drivers worst night mare. You can’t duck, you can’t bow your head; you’re stuck. You can’t shrink into the car. It’s the stuff of nightmares what happened to her – and so easily preventable, which is the key.
      Just as a post script; the fact Maria died might actually present a complication to a compensation claim. A strong medical link between her injuries suffered as a result of the accident and her death might be critical as, perversely, if it’s not established it could be argued that she then didn’t actually suffer a career loss or earnings loss given she died in an unrelated way anyway. There is no loss suffered to compensate, so to speak. Morbid, I know. But from my perspective, only an accident-related death would enable a civil compensation case to be adequately argued.

      Again, I am flabbergasted criminal proceedings didn’t take place given the overt negligence; which usually paves the way for a civil proceeding.

      • I’m not normally one to complain, and I completely understand the need for moderation, but I am curious about my above comment remaining in moderation…

        Is it libellous? I can’t see how it is, but I understand that you might need to avoid flying too close to the sun – even from content written by one of your commenters.

        It’s certainly not provocative; I’ve said much worse, I think… Just curious so I can tailor my non-jokey comments better in future.

          • Haha, point taken… good call, Bruznic.


            Soz-not-soz? (I think that’s how it’s used)

          • I had to look up what that meant. Geuss I lost my touch of 14 year old girls’ slang 😉

          • I am fortunate to have young children and my brother has teenager children. So, I’m totes across all the yolo lingo – ya dig?

          • And i have the fact that my native tongue isn’t English, so the slang here is different. But anyway, learned something today so the day was not wasted 😉

    • I thought I read somewhere that the coroners report said that the fatality was linked to her trauma?

    • Yes, we do. It is supremely unlikely that de Vilotta would have died in a hotel room so young, and for no obviously apparent reason. Her death must have been simply a hangover from the F1 crash and related injuries…

      People were up in arms with Alonso getting a slight bump on the head (i.e. a concussion, or as Dr Harstein elegantly put it, a “xxxx traumatic FREAKIN’ BRAIN INJURY!!!!”). Imagine the freakin’ brain trauma de Vilotta’s head sustained… Whether you die on the spot (Senna and Ratzenberger), in a hotel room a year later (de Vilotta), or fall into a prolonged coma (Bianchi), they’re all still directly related to their accidents that happened in F1… None of these F1 drivers would have fallen so catastrophically so young without a gentle nudge from F1 machinery…

        • We’re all not specialists on 99% of the things that we discuss (whether on TJ13, or in real life), yet we still are entitled to a reasonable opinion, given our experience/knowledge and publicly available facts. Inferring that de Vilotta’s death was intimately linked to her F1 crash stands to reason, given all that we know and barring unforeseen evidence (e.g. she had a skiing accident the day before her death).

  1. Any stuff that happens after this is up to the Administrator of the old Manor GP as he is ultimaletly accountable for any debts or damages forthcoming from that company. Not nice but fact.

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