Judge declines Stewart’s request to change venues

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A federal judge declined Tony Stewart’s request Tuesday to change venues for the wrongful death lawsuit against Stewart.

The suit – brought by the family of Kevin Ward Jr., – will be heard in U.S. District Court in Utica, N.Y. The family is seeking unspecified damages for the death of Ward, who was killed in an incident with Stewart during a sprint car race at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park on Aug. 9, 2014.

Stewart had sought to move the case to U.S. District Court in Rochester, N.Y., citing that location was more convenient for non-party witnesses expected to provide testimony. Ward’s family did not challenge the move.

Judge David N. Hurd stated there was not enough reason to change venues, noting that “Stewart, a resident of Indiana, would be obligated to travel regardless of whether this action is heard in the Northern District of New York or the proposed transferee forum. And plaintiffs, residents of Lewis County, would actually be required to travel a greater distance to reach the proposed forum than they would otherwise be required to travel within this district; in fact, a change of venue would impose a three-fold increase in travel distance for them.’’

Hurd also countered Stewart’s claim that the case should be moved to Rochester, N.Y., because it has an international airport and that would make it easier for out-of-state witnesses to travel.

“Closer scrutiny reveals that travel to either location by all of the various non-party witnesses identified by Stewart would require some degree of travel and, therefore, some degree of inconvenience,’’ Hurt wrote.