Tony Stewart confers with teammate Ryan Newman - NASCAR photoEnlarge Photo
NASCAR driver and part-time Sprint Car racer Tony Stewart is being sued over the 2014 on-track accident that took the life of 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. The wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against Stewart by the late racer's family.
The incident took place on August 9, 2014 at Canandaigua (New York) Motorsports Park after Ward Jr.'s number 13 car hit the wall when racing closely on the outside of Stewart's number 14 car. An irate Ward Jr. got out of his car on the high-side of the track, then stepped toward the action to point at Stewart as he drove by. Stewart hit Ward Jr., killing him. Ontario Country police investigated the incident, but declined to charge Stewart in Ward Jr.'s death.
The lawsuit has been filed by Ward Jr.'s parents, Kevin and Pamela Ward, who are being represented by The Lanier Law Firm. It claims that Stewart wrongfully caused Ward Jr.'s death by "acting with wanton, reckless and malicious intent and negligence." The family has requested a jury trial in 5th Judicial District for the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Lowville.
A release from the lawfirm obtained by USA Today states that neither the Ward family nor their attorneys plan on issuing further comment. So far, Stewart hasn't commented either.
This was certainly a tragic incident that shows what can happen when a driver steps onto a hot track. While the law could find no reason to charge Stewart, the burden of proof isn't as onerous in a civil suit as it is in a criminal case. We'll continue to monitor what happens.