Monday, February 13, 2006

'Hendrick Lashes Out At Lawsuit Filed Against Him Over Plane Crash'

WRAL.com

An emotional Rick Hendrick expressed disappointment Saturday about a lawsuit filed against him by the widow of one of his employees killed in a 2004 plane crash, calling some of her claims a "cheap shot" and a personal attack on his family.

Dianne Dorton filed suit earlier this week in North Carolina, saying Hendrick Motorsports was liable in the death of her husband, Randy. He was one of 10 people killed in October 2004 when a Hendrick plane crashed near Martinsville, Va., en route to a NASCAR race.

Dorton's suit claimed Hendrick Motorsports showed "conscious and intentional disregard" for Randy Dorton's safety, alleging that company president John Hendrick rejected the pilot's suggestion to divert to a different airport because of bad weather because he didn't want to be late for the race.

"I don't understand the attack on my brother -- I thought it was a cheap shot, it was disappointing and not true," Rick Hendrick said. "Everybody suffered. It was a sad deal. It was an accident. ... It's just really disappointing when you do the best you can and someone grandstands and doesn't get the facts straight."

Killed in the plane crash were Rick Hendrick's son, brother, two nieces, two Hendrick employees and an associate, a helicopter pilot for Tony Stewart and the plane's two pilots. Randy Dorton was the head engine builder for Hendrick.

Hendrick maintains his brother was a "white-knuckle flier" so cautious that several pilots have told him John Hendrick had canceled or delayed many flights because of safety concerns. He also said John Hendrick never would have put his twin 22-year-old daughters in danger.

"He had his two girls on that plane and one mistake (Dianne Dorton) made was saying he said, `We got to go to that airport' which is totally false," Hendrick said. "They waited an hour and I've talked to people who were other pilots there that said if they couldn't get in, they would stay home."

Last week, the National Transportation Safety Board said flight crew errors probably caused the crash. The NTSB report found that the crew improperly read instruments and missed a landing approach to Blue Ridge Airport, resulting in the Beech King Air 200 crashing into fog-shrouded Bull Mountain.

Dorton's suit also alleges that Hendrick turned his back on her and has not responded to her requests for help. Hendrick disputed that, saying he paid Randy Dorton's 2004 bonus, part of his 2005 salary, a BMW for Dianne Dorton and the insurance on the car, and offered her constant assistance after the accident.

"You can do a lawsuit for an insurance company, but you don't have to personally attack my family and you don't have to say the company hasn't helped when we've broken our back and been there and done things," Hendrick said. "Those are the two things that bother me -- lawsuits don't bother me, that's why we have insurance.

"But to attack my family personally when we've done everything we can, I was very disappointed in Dianne. I think it was uncalled for and not accurate."

posted by David at 1:22 AM :: Permalink ::

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