It looks like the civil lawsuit against Tony Stewart is going to trial.
The trial date has been set for May 7, according to the Utica Observer-Dispatch. A hearing that was scheduled for last week was also cancelled, the newspaper reported.
The trial would take place in US District Court, before Judge David Hurd.
The family of Kevin Ward 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.
Stewart has already filed a motion for appeal based on Hurd’s recent rulings, including that waivers signed by drivers before the 2014 Sprint car race are unenforceable.
Stewart claims the Ward family shouldn’t be able to sue because Kevin Ward and his father signed the waiver, and race car drivers know the risk of walking on a race track under caution.
Stewart wants the immediate appeal because he would eventually appeal following the May trial, and a decision prior the the trial could speed settlement talks, ESPN reported. The Ward family and Stewart have made several settlement attempts over the last three years, to no avail.
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.