A federal judge is scheduled to rule soon on how a civil lawsuit against NASCAR legend Tony Stewart can proceed.
Stewart and the family of Kevin Ward were back in court last month. Stewart’s attorneys want most of the claims in the case dismissed, while the Ward family continues to push its claim that Stewart was negligent in their son’s death on a New York racetrack.
U.S. District Court Judge David Hurd said, when the hearing ended, he would render a lengthy decision, but gave no timetable, other than to say it would take him “weeks.”
Ward’s family claims their son suffered a broken leg, torn aorta and a transected spinal chord after he was hit by Stewart on a New York Race track in 2014.
The central issue in the most recent hearing, according to Syracuse.com, was whether releases and waivers signed by Ward and Stewart would prevent the family from suing.
Stewart’s attorney’s came to court seeking a dismissal of all but one claim in the civil lawsuit — whether Stewart was reckless in the death of Kevin Ward, who he struck and killed on a New York race track in 2014. Stewart has insisted the incident was a tragic accident.
The Ward family, on the other hand, wanted summary judgement in the case.
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.
According to Law.com, here’s the definition of summary judgement:
A summary judgment is based upon a motion by one of the parties that contends that all necessary factual issues are settled or so one-sided they need not be tried
U.S. District Court Judge Hurd peppered attorneys on both sides with questions. Stewart’s attorney, Angela Krahulik, argued that the releases shielded Stewart from being sued and that Ward knew the risks of racing. The Ward family attorney, Benjamin Major, argued that Stewart intentionally hit Ward in retaliation for an earlier crash.
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.
ESPN reported that the lawsuit — now in its third year — was delayed in September due to Hurricane Harvey, which decimated parts of Texas. The Ward family’s attorneys are from Houston, which has been hard hit by the hurricane.