Lawyers urge US GP fans to wait on refunds

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Fans who attended the boycotted US Grand Prix should receive more than the ticket refunds offered by Michelin, say attorneys who have filed lawsuits.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:52 IST
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Fans who attended the boycotted US Grand Prix should receive more than the ticket refunds offered by Michelin, say attorneys who have filed lawsuits. The French tyre manufacturer, the seven Formula One teams that withdrew their cars, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and others also should pay fans for travel and other expenses, the attorneys said Wednesday. More entitlements Henry Price, an Indianapolis attorney seeking to lead a class-action suit over the boycott, said the 100,000 people who attended the race June 19 are entitled to much more than the $75-$150 ticket price. Michelin last week offered to refund money to those who bought race tickets and buy 20,000 tickets for those wanting to return for the 2006 race. But Price said fans could cost themselves additional compensation if they accept that offer. "Michelin could take the position that it's a settlement, and anyone who did that would give up the rest of their rights," Price said. Details awaited Michelin has not provided any details on how it will distribute the ticket refunds or whether it would put any conditions on them. Michelin spokesman Phil Romba said his company hopes to finalize plans within a week. "We're doing this because it's the right thing to do," he said. "Our focus is on the fans." Indianapolis Motor Speedway spokesman Ron Green declined comment Wednesday on the suits. He said track officials and Michelin were still working on the refund plan. "When that's finalized, it will be released so the message remains the same," he said. Unofficial offer William Bock III, another lawyer who has filed suits over the race in state and federal courts, said Michelin's stated desire to compensate the fans is unofficial. "We have been in regular communication with several hundred fans who have contacted us since our lawsuit has been filed," Bock said. "None have been contacted by Michelin." Two Michelin tyres failed during practice sessions two days before the race, after which the company claimed its tests showed the tyres were not "intrinsically flawed" and justified demands for a curve to be installed to slow cars on a high-speed part of the course. Refunds sought Only six of 20 cars – those with Bridgestone tyres – raced that day. Michelin's refund offer for this year's race could cost the company about $10 million if 100,000 ticket holders sought refunds at an average of $100 each. A similar average ticket price could cost the company $2 million for the 2006 race tickets it offered to buy. Michelin's offer to refund tickets is just a start, Price said. "The fans were cheated," he said. "They didn't get what they paid for. Much of the world is watching to see whether or not Indianapolis can rectify this situation." (AP)

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