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slim pickens

Vladimir Konstantinov in Detroit court today....

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Dealership at fault in limo crash, jury told

By Joe Swickard • Free Press Staff Writer • April 29, 2008

The car dealership that sold the limousine involved in a 1997 crash that severely injured two Red Wings should have made sure the seat belts were properly installed, an attorney said in federal court today.

"There wouldn't have been any damages if the seat belts had been available," said Richard Goodman, in his opening statement.

Goodman -- representing Irina Konstantinov, the wife the of Red Wings defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov, and also representing team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov and his wife Elena -- said the dealership had the responsibility to make sure the seat belts were properly installed and equipped with guides. He said if they had been properly installed, everyone would have walked away from the crash.

Goodman said the Findlay, Ohio, Ford dealer did not inspect the limousine after it was modified.

They told the customers "good luck and good night," Goodman said.

But the dealership’s lawyer James Feeney said the belts were available and readily accessible if the passengers wanted to use them. Even if the belt were tucked into the seats, they could have been located and pulled out with little effort in a matter of seconds, Feeney told the jurors.

There is no pleasure, Feeney said, “arguing against people who have become folk heroes in this town…but Findlay Ford did nothing wrong.”

The careers of Konstantinov and Mnatsakanov were ended by the crash. They were both in court today. Konstantinov used a walker and Mnatsakanov used a wheelchair.

A jury of eight members is hearing the case in U.S. District Judge George Steeh's courtroom in Detroit.

The three-week trial could include testimony from at least two dozen witnesses, including Wings owner Mike Ilitch, team executive and former star Steve Yzerman and the limo driver who walked away from the crash, Richard Gnida.

The vehicle hit a tree on Woodward in Birmingham after Gnida fell asleep at the wheel on the way back from a golf outing. Defenseman Slava Fetisov also was in the limo but wasn't seriously injured.

The suit is among a number filed as a result of the crash.

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for the life of me I cannot understand the arguments here. I hate to say it but they're just fishing for money.

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Why are they calling Irina Konstantinov the wife of Vladdy. I thought sure they divorced about 5 years ago, after staying together for awhile after the accident.

EDIT: Maybe they just separated.

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