The much-publicized 2009 crash of a Bugatti Veyron into a Texas lagoon has come down to an alleged case of insurance fraud, with a federal judge deciding that the complaint should go before a jury.
The watery demise of the valuable Veyron, recorded for posterity on an amateur video that has received nearly 2.6 million views on YouTube, is being challenged by the company that provided $2 million in collector-car insurance for the car, according to a report from Courthouse News Service.
Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company contends that the owner of the Bugatti, Andy House of Lufkin, Texas, intentionally drove the car into the Galveston salt-water lagoon to destroy it and get a big payoff from the insurance company.
Watch the video at: Bugatti Crash.
The 2010 federal complaint names House and Lloyd Gillespie, who reputedly provided House with a $1 million interest-free loan to buy the Bugatti. There are allegations from Philadelphia Indemnity that House and Gillespie conspired to defraud the company to double Gillespie’s $1 million investment.
The insurance company also claims that in its investigation, it uncovered a confidential informant who said that before the lagoon crash, House offered to pay him to steal the car and burn it so that the insurance money could be collected.
"However, apparently Mr. House instead drove the car into the lagoon without the confidential informant's assistance," the complaint continues as reported by Courthouse News. “Once the confidential informant confronted Mr. House, Mr. House offered to pay the confidential informant a portion of the insurance proceeds once recovered to remain silent during the investigation.
"The confidential informant indicated that he believed Mr. House and Mr. Gillespie acted in coordination in this matter."
House claims that the accident happened when he acted to avoid a pelican on the roadway, which occurred while he was reaching to retrieve a dropped cell phone. The widely viewed YouTube video shows the Bugatti cruising along a road adjacent to the lagoon, then swerving into the water with a gigantic splash.
Courthouse News reports that Philadelphia Indemnity said that it interviewed the man who made the video, and he said he didn't see a pelican and didn't notice House drop his cell phone. There is no pelican apparent in the video, although it was taken from a distance and the large bird could be obscured.
The insurance company also claims there were no skid marks and that “witnesses at the scene stated that Mr. House did not appear overly upset at the loss of the vehicle."
"It was also reported that Mr. House left the vehicle running for over 15 minutes while it was submerged until it died on its own causing unnecessary damage to the vehicle's engine," the complaint says. "Defendant House confirmed this fact and attributed leaving the vehicle running because he was being bitten by mosquitoes around the vehicle."
The insurance company further alleges in its complaint that the accident occurred outside the scope of the collector-car policy, which limits the mileage and the type of driving permitted, because House put more than 1,200 miles on the Bugatti during the three weeks he owned it, using it for personal errands and business trips, Courthouse News reports.
Defendant Gillespie and Philadelphia Indemnity had each moved for summary judgment, but U.S. Magistrate Judge John Froeschner rejected both maneuvers in favor of a jury trial.
"In the humble opinion of this court, this case involves quizzical factual circumstances that compel credibility determinations which this court may not make at the summary judgment stage," Froeschner wrote Tuesday. "That function is for the jury that both Gillespie and Philadelphia have demanded."
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I always thought the Bugatti wanted to commit suicide after it was called a Lambo...
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When you've already enough money to buy such a car, why the heck would you need to do that?
For all beginners in drag racing, I created a Drag Tuning Bible! --> Indy; --> SSR7
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