A U.S District court judge has ruled against a request by Tony Stewart to throw out most of the claims in a civil wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Kevin Ward, according to a report in ESPN.
The central issue at a recent hearing was whether releases and waivers signed by Ward and Stewart would prevent the Ward family from suing. The judge ruled the suit can continue, and if the parties can’t settle the case — they’ve tried in the past, to no avail — it could go before a jury.
Ward’s family has filed a civil lawsuit that alleges Stewart acted recklessly when he struck and killed Ward during an Empire Super Sprint series race in upstate New York in August 2014. No criminal charges were filed in the case, and Stewart insists it was a tragic accident.
The Ward family attorney Mark Lanier told ESPN, “There are genuine factual disputes over whether, and to what extent, defendant’s conduct during the caution period of the race may have unreasonably increased the risk that Ward Jr. assumed.”
Ward’s family and Stewart have made three attempts to settle a civil lawsuit that alleges Stewart acted recklessly when he struck and killed Ward. After a wreck on the track, Ward exited his vehicle and was struck by Stewart’s car. Stewart was exonerated in any criminal wrongdoing because a court found Ward was impaired due to marijuana use — a claim his family disputes.
The Ward family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the wreck, and said, on Good Morning America, they believe Stewart lost his temper but did not intentionally hit their son. They see the civil suit at a way to get “justice” for their son. Stewart has said he was just trying to change direction and hitting Ward was an accident.
“I know 100 percent in my heart and in my mind that I did not do anything wrong. This was 100 percent an accident,” Stewart told The Associated Press.