Tony Stewart and Family of Kevin Ward Jr Reach Settlement Ahead of Civil Trial
Just weeks before the case was set to go to trial, the wrongful death lawsuit between the family of Kevin Ward Jr and Tony Steward has been settled, pending the approval of the judge set to overhear the case.
Stewart’s sprint car struck Ward, who had exited his car following a crash at an Empire Super Sprints race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park that he clearly believed was caused by Stewart, which resulted in fatal injuries to the 20 year old racer. In video of the incident, it appears as though Stewart hit the throttle and and kicked the rear end of his car out toward Ward, but knowing that sprint cars require the driver to use the throttle to get the car to turn, it’s hard to say if the maneuver was toward Ward or an attempt to steer the car away from him.
While a criminal court found no grounds to charge Stewart, civil cases leave much more room for a ruling to go differently than a criminal case, where there has to be proof of guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt. While the matter of intent would have been a factor in the trial, the Ward family could have won a judgement without the jury ruling that Stewart intentionally stuck Ward.
The suit was filed by Ward’s family back in August of 2015 and was set to go to trial in just 5 weeks. The settlement, if approved by Judge David Hurd at an in-person hearing set for April 12th, will likely remain sealed and not made a matter of public record to protect the privacy of both parties.
A year before the suit was filed, Stewart was cleared of any criminal liability, and it was revealed that Ward was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the incident. Whether or not that would have had any effect on the outcome of the civil case will never be known. We will be sure to share any further information about the case as it becomes available.