Five weeks before a wrongful death lawsuit was set to go to trial, attorneys for Tony Stewart and the family of Kevin Ward Jr. have notified the judge of a settlement.
The Ward family filed the lawsuit in August 2015, one year after Ward was struck and killed by Stewart during a sprint car race at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park. In the lawsuit the Ward family claimed Stewart “wrongly caused Mr. Ward’s death by acting with wanton, reckless and malicious intent and negligence.”
A settlement hearing has been set for April 12 by U.S. District Court Judge David Hurd. It will take place in Utica, New York, and the terms of the settlement will be put on public record.
Stewart was cleared of any criminal charges by a grand jury in 2014. During the investigation, it was found that Ward had marijuana in his system at the time of the accident, and Ontario County (N.Y.) District Attorney Michael Tantillo said it was enough to impair his judgment.
Racing side-by-side off Turn 2, Ward was squeezed into the outside wall, spun and suffered a flat tire. Under caution, Ward climbed from his car and pointed his finger at Stewart’s oncoming vehicle as he walked down the track. During a December 2016 deposition, Stewart said he “attempted to change direction” upon seeing Ward but clipped the 20-year-old.
The cause of death was blunt force trauma.
Stewart told The Associated Press in 2014 “I know 100 percent in my heart and in my mind that I did not do anything wrong.”